Licha Stelaus Productions: An Interview with Founder Richard Chen and Oboist Quek Jun Rui
This November, Licha Stelaus Productions is bringing in the renowned Saint-Marc Children’s Choir (Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Marc) as they present an evening of family-friendly tunes from various Disney films. But as a French choir, of course they’ll be presenting them not in English, but French!
Best known for appearing in the 2004 Academy-award nominated movie Les Choristes, the choir will also be presenting a medley of Christmas carols, perfect for the holiday season, and will be joined by local oboe prodigy Quek Jun Rui, who is currently studying at NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. We spoke to Licha Stelaus founder Richard Chen and oboist Quek Jun Rui to get some insight into the company and show. Read the interviews in full below:
Bakchormeeboy: When was the first time you experienced the St Marc Children’s Choir, and what was it about them that compelled Licha Stelaus to feature them this year?
Richard: Following the successful performance by one of the oldest and most successful choirs from Europe, Nidarosdomens Guttekor last year, Licha Stelaus Productions was on the look out for another fantastic choir that would provide audiences with even more musical enjoyment. After a wide search, we were mesmerised with Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint Marc, also known as The Saint Marc Children’s Choir, because of the choir’s diverse repertoire and most importantly, their unique take on Disney songs sung in French! We knew that this would be an excellent way to bring the joy of classical music to younger audiences and help them gain an appreciation of music through Disney songs. This would certainly make for a heart-warming experience for families and their children to enjoy. Moreover, parents looking for a school-holiday activity that is not only fun but also educational will not be disappointed. With most of the songs sung in French, this concert can also expose children to a new language in a fun way through familiar Disney tunes that they know.
Bakchormeeboy: Licha Stelaus and the Chenter Foundation have always been immensely supportive of children in need and younger talents, be it financially, or providing a platform to showcase them. Why is it so important that organisations such as yours provide such an avenue for support, and do you think there are enough of such avenues for the young in Singapore to turn to?
We are not able to change the World, but we certainly can improve the world of a child, one at a time. The Chenter Foundation was established with three aims. First, Advancement and Health Care in paediatric medical science, Second, Education and Opportunities for underprivileged children, and Third, Empathy and Compassion through music and performing arts We believe that it is important to look after the needs of the younger generation and provide them with good health, education as well as an appreciation for culture. Through the concerts that Licha Stelaus Productions brings in every year, we seek to provide a rich musical and cultural experience for all audiences in Singapore, as well as to nurture young musical talent like Jun Rui, the oboist performing together with The Saint Marc Children’s Choir. The Singapore music scene is very much alive, with more and more classical music performances in Singapore and a greater appreciation for the arts seen in this country. Licha Stelaus Productions wants to make the classical music scene even more vibrant by curating exceptional acts for all to enjoy.
All our concerts around the world are inclusive events. Apart from various charities, we always include children of groups that help, take care of, and educate children with special needs. Audiences’ support in spreading empathy and compassion through music and performing arts is most appreciated.
Bakchormeeboy: In 2017, you contributed to the Licha Stelaus’ ‘blog’, charting the journey the company has gone on. Following this year’s performance, where might your journeys bring you to in 2019 and what can we expect from Licha Stelaus in the year to come?
Licha Stelaus Productions wants to represent truly remarkable young talented musicians and performing artists and help Chenter Foundation combine the works together. We want to bring in acts that are truly passionate about music and will wow audiences with their music. In coming 12 December we are bringing the Ragazzi Boys Choir (San Francisco) to San Diego for a fund raising event benefiting the Rady Children’s Hospital. In 2019, we want to take the performances to greater heights with high quality acts that are guaranteed to provide audiences with a rich cultural experience. Ultimately, concert goers can be assured of a unique production that will resonate with them and leave them coming back for more.
Bakchormeeboy: What makes the performance by the St Marc Children’s Choir this November an unmissable one?
Richard: The Saint Marc Children’s Choir will be performing your favourite Disney tunes in French. Audiences can look forward to beautiful renditions of Disney songs like “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King and even sing-along favourites for the young ones like “Let It Go” from Frozen. With songs performed in French, this is an excellent opportunity to expose children to a foreign language in a very fun way. While the melodies will certainly be familiar to audiences, the French lyrics add a different dimension in the enjoyment of the repertoires. Moreover, with the concert close to Christmas time, this is a perfect event for families. Young and old alike can hum along to timeless Christmas classics during the concert and celebrate the season’s festivities together with The Saint Marc Children’s Choir.
In addition, this is the first time that The Saint Marc Children’s Choir will be performing in Singapore. With a repertoire varying widely from spiritual hymns to classical and contemporary music, The Saint Marc Children’s Choir is a musical delight for all families. Well known for singing in the Academy-award nominated movie “Les Choristes”, the choir from Lyon, France, has garnered an array of achievements in its Portfolio of Excellence. The choir will be singing songs from the “Les Choristes” movie. In addition, the choir is the Cultural Ambassador of Lyon and is also part of the French Federation of Little Singers, itself a part of the Fédération Internationale des Pueri Cantores. The choristers at The Saint Marc Children’s Choir receive different kinds of training for the repertoires they sing. Apart from singing lessons, they also study music theory, learn the piano, and a second instrument of their choice. This comprehensive musical education provides all choristers with a deeper understanding of the music they perform, therefore delivering world-class musical and performance standards to their audiences.
Quek Jun Rui, a 17-year-old oboist will be performing with The Saint Marc Children’s Choir during their two-night only performance. Currently studying at NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, will be lending his musical talents to the performance, with beautiful melodies that harmonise perfectly with the choristers. For the first time, six songs were re-arranged to be performed with oboe, piano and choral, showcasing Jun Rui’s musical expertise.
Quek Jun Rui
Bakchormeeboy: What was the impetus behind picking up the oboe in the first place?
Jun Rui: I started playing the oboe when I was 10 years old. My dad introduced me to the oboe because he felt that the oboe was a unique wind instrument. The experience of learning the oboe was filled with a lot of frustration due to the physical constraints that I had at that time. When I started learning the oboe, I had small fingers, so I couldn’t reach some of the keys. I also had a small build back then, so I didn’t have the strength to hold my oboe properly and the stamina to sustain long tones. However, the more I practiced, the better I became at it and the more I grew to appreciate this very unique wind instrument.
Bakchormeeboy: In becoming so good at the oboe, do you think you’ve ever made any big sacrifices in life that you regret?
Jun Rui: I would say that the oboe is an instrument I truly love and has become an integral part of my life. Learning the oboe has opened many doors for me, especially to perform with The Saint Marc Children’s Choir in end November this year. I am also especially grateful for being immersed in a musical environment at an early age, with my parents both being musically trained. For instance, whenever I have a concert, I would always invite my family to watch me perform, and they would give me constructive feedback about my performance after each concert. At home, they would occasionally pop into my practice session to give tips and comments to help improve my overall performance. In addition, I have been blessed to be under the tutelage of Mr Simon Lee, my first oboe teacher. Throughout the years when he was teaching me, he would always give valuable advice to improve my playing. He also taught me to set a very high standard for myself in my playing in order to play the oboe well.
Bakchormeeboy: As the St Marc Children’s Choir will be performing a medley of Disney songs, what is your favourite Disney song?
Jun Rui: I think Let It Go from Frozen is my favourite. It will be an exciting experience to perform together with The Saint Marc Children’s Choir and I hope that the addition of the oboe will make the music richer and more inspiring for audiences.
Bakchormeeboy: In the year (or years) to come, what would you say is your goal as a musician, and what’s might be next after Yong Siew Toh for you?
Jun Rui: Performing is my main goal, because I like performing. It is the greatest feeling in the world to perform; nerve-wrecking but enjoyable at the same time. To be able to spread the joy of music to audiences is something that I strive towards, and I hope to be able to do this for many more years to come.
We’re giving away tickets to catch the Saint-Marc Children’s Choir on 21st November at 7.30pm at the Victoria Concert Hall! All you have to do is:
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