As the choirmaster of both the Singapore Symphony Children’s Choir (SSCC) and the Singapore Symphony Youth Choir (SSYC), which regularly perform alongside the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), Wong Lai Foon admits that she’s sometimes a child psychologist too—and this role typically kicks in just before the curtains rise.
“We want the children to enjoy the music and their time on stage. As we usually have long rehearsals before a concert, we try to get their energies up by boosting morale and enthusiasm backstage.”
Wong wears many other hats. Besides guiding the 50-strong concert choir to harmonise as one cohesive voice on stage, and selecting its repertoire, the 58-year-old is also responsible for the training curriculum. “Unlike most conductors who don’t teach individual instrumentalists how to play their instruments, I am part-voice instructor as well. I deal with the human voice, so I teach a little bit of choral and vocal techniques to help the singers create the best sound.” SSCC currently has over 160 young talents, aged between nine and 17, enrolled in its training programme, while the SSYC has over 40 singers aged between 17 and 28.