As perky as Fridays can get, there’s still an entire work day to get through for most people. And nowhere else do you feel it more than in the CBD, as countless office workers drone away tirelessly at their desks, waiting for the weekend. There’s a solution for that though – if you happen to work around the area and love Chinese music, then you’re in luck; your Fridays just got that more interesting, with the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre’s all new TGIF Music Station initiative!
Taking place every first and third Friday of the month, TGIF Music Station acts as a platform for showcasing the very best local Mandarin artists as they take to the stage and perform a completely free show for members of the public. When we headed down last Friday afternoon, we caught local Getai Princess Lee Pei Fen playing to a full house at the SCCC Concourse, a solo performance assisted only by her pianist as she accomplished an entire 45-minute set.
Even though we aren’t getai regulars, we were pretty much wowed by the ease with which Pei Fen conducted herself onstage, all smiles at all times and quickly creating a comfortable and warm atmosphere with her light hearted banter and cheery personality. Shifting seamlessly between both Mandarin and dialect to better relate to the crowd of mostly older aunties and uncles (no doubt her ardent fans), Pei Fen effortlessly commanded the stage, and showed off her wide range of both xinyao music and classic hits in her varied setlist, brimming with energy and transferring that sense of joy to the audience.
Speaking to the award-winning Pei Fen after her performance, we found out a little more about how she felt being the opening performance to kickstart the entire TGIF Music Station. Said Pei Fen: “Doing this was really out of my comfort zone, since I’ve mostly been doing emceeing work or doing only a few songs per performance. Since it’s January, I really wanted to bring a lot of positive energy and good vibes with my setlist, choosing to sing more upbeat and uplifting songs full of optimism for the year ahead.”
On whether she thinks that getai has a future, Pei Fen said: “For it to survive, we need more youths to continue keeping it alive. Nowadays, there’s a lot of apps we use to livestream our performances, and young people actually download them for their elders, often discovering the beauty of the getai industry for themselves along the way. Getai can be very accessible, for example, last year we performed at a convent girls school, and tailored our songs specially for them, using songs from artists such as Jay Chou and Elva Hsiao. With so many new platforms for us to perform, getai isn’t just limited to stages in the heartlands anymore. More government agencies are coming on board to collaborate with the industry to help spread the word, and people can now more easily find out where we’re performing using social media channels. So yes, I believe getai will live on.”
Said Mr Lee Ee Wurn, SCCC Programmes Director: “We programme the music such that the afternoon sessions are aimed more at the retirees and housewives, while night sessions are very different, with singers like Project Superstar 2014 winner Alfred Sim and his wife Tay Kewei. We hold them in the rooftop garden with full bands, more like a proper concert and you’ll even get some fantastic views of the city from the top of the building.”
“Music has always been such a strong touchpoint in Chinese culture, and through TGIF Music Station, we hope to use it as a means to reach out to the masses, making it as friendly and accessible as possible. Ultimately, we hope that we attract audiences to the SCCC, that they enjoy the show, learn about the centre, and return with their family and friends for even more activities.”
Even though the schedule for TGIF Music Station currently only runs till March, Ee Wurn assures us that it will continue on, and to look out for news on future programming. With the programme firmly established and off to a roaring start, we look forward to coming back to the SCCC on further Fridays to start the weekend off on a high note; no doubt you might even find us dancing and singing along to these shows as we discover new local talent and immerse ourselves in the very best Chinese music our island has to offer.
TGIF Music Station takes place every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, located at 1 Straits Boulevard. For the full lineup and schedule, visit the SCCC website here