At the centre is Voice and around it is growth. For five years, Vocal Associates have been growing together. Elliot Koh, who started as a boy soprano is now a bass!
Growth is an indicator of life and progress, and is a key part of musical development. The Vocal Associates Festival Chorus has been making music together for the past 5 years, and has performed a variety of music such as classical, operatic, pop and traditional. As a group, the chorus has grown from strength to strength and is the sum of many individuals growing together. Elliot Koh is one example of someone who has grown by leaps and bounds in his musical journey. When he joined, he was just 10 years old, and he’s now already 15 years old, a senior to those in Children’s Chorus! Hear what he has to say about his growth journey thus far!
An Interview with Elliot Koh - Boy Soprano to Booming Bass
VA: Before we begin, tell us about yourself and how you joined Vocal Associates? Elliot Koh: Hi! My name is Elliot and I've been with Vocal Associates (VA) for almost 5 years now. I joined VA after my mum found out about the chorus from a friend. I started in the children’s chorus where I had loads of fun learning new songs with other kids my age whom I’ve become good friends with. We now sing together in the youth chorus. When I moved up to the youth chorus, things became a little different and more challenging. My voice had broken! I used to be a soprano, but am now a bass. After my voice broke, I had to grow into my “new” singing range and new place in the chorus. This process made me realise how hard it is to be a male singer. I'm still adapting to it but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to do it well soon! Being a bass allows me to interact with more of the men in VA and I also get to sing parts of songs that I never thought I would when I was a soprano. To me, being a bass is more challenging as you rarely sing the melody, but that is a challenge I'm willing to take on as I grow to become a well-rounded singer.
VA: Wow, talk about moving from one end to the other! I’m you will grow to become an excellent singer in your new section! So, it’s been 5 years since you joined. In which area have you grown the most? Elliot Koh: I've probably grown most in my musicality. When I first entered VA, I relied solely on our musical director, Ms Khor, to tell us how the music flows and where to breathe or place accents. Having sung with VA for a while now, it has become natural for me to always take a look at the score before practice. I take this chance to go through the music on my own and figure out what the composer is trying to convey in the piece. I then try interpreting it based on what I understand and then compare with the direction that our musical director sets during practice. Doing this allows me to grow and further develop my understanding and expression of the music that I perform.
VA: Besides music, has singing in a chorus helped you grow in other aspects? Elliot Koh: As a whole singing has really made me listen out more for others and helped me to realise how important teamwork is. It’s also made me realise the importance of discipline in striving for excellence. A chorus is a team in itself. You need to work together and each person needs to not only know their own parts but also be aware of what others’ parts are. You need to know when to take the lead and when to give way. It is also important to follow the musical director who sets the pace and direction for the chorus. If we only concentrate on ourselves or our own section, then we won’t be “singing to the same tune”. Everyone needs to be aligned to make great music. We also need to also be disciplined in studying and practicing our music, to be able to perform to the best of our abilities. VA: Looking back on your 10 year old self, how would you encourage him in his musical growth? Elliot Koh: Looking back on my 10 year old self, I'd tell to just have fun wherever he goes but to stay disciplined and work hard in his music endeavours!