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Music

Vocal Focal

Beautifying melodies in Indian classical singing

Carnatic vocalist Lavanya introduces gamakas, the ornamented notes which gives Carnatic music its unique sound.

Published: 26 Nov 2021

Duration: 06:19

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Music

Vocal Focal

A cappella – A Southeast Asian perspective

Vocal percussionist Cherie demonstrates how to recreate instruments commonly heard in Singapore using only the human voice.

Published: 26 Nov 2021

Duration: 05:50

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Music

Vocal Focal

Exploring your vocal registers

Learn how to maximise your voice's potential through different vocal registers.

Published: 26 Nov 2021

Duration: 05:43

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Music

Vocal Focal

Singing the jazzy blues like Nancy Wilson

Alemay shares the style and impact of jazz songstress Nancy Wilson.

Published: 26 Nov 2021

Duration: 09:38

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Music

Vocal Focal

An evolution of musical theatre styles

TJ, Mina and Vanessa explain the evolution of musical theatre styles and techniques.

Published: 26 Nov 2021

Duration: 07:56

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Music

Vocal Focal

Singing in harmony

Adi and Steph explain and demonstrate ways to sing in harmony.

Published: 26 Nov 2021

Duration: 06:48

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Music

Vocal Focal

Warming up & caring for your voice

How to use your voice the right way with Jingyun and Joel

Published: 26 Nov 2021

Duration: 06:17

Now Playing

Beautifying melodies in Indian classical singing

06:19

Now Playing

A cappella – A Southeast Asian perspective

05:50

Now Playing

Exploring your vocal registers

05:43

Now Playing

Singing the jazzy blues like Nancy Wilson

09:38

Now Playing

An evolution of musical theatre styles

07:56

Now Playing

Singing in harmony

06:48

Now Playing

Warming up & caring for your voice

06:17


Time taken : ~10mins

Beautifying melodies in Indian classical singing

Available from 14 Nov 2022, 10am

Rich in tonal complexities and stylistic renderings, Indian classical singing is often known for its expressiveness and musical technicality. Watch Carnatic vocalist Lavanya Balachandran introduce the concept and techniques of gamakas, or ornamented notes, which gives the Carnatic music genre its unique sound.

Vocal Focal is a video series produced as part of Esplanade's Voices – A Festival of Song. This episode was released in 2022.


About Lavanya Balachandran

Lavanya Balachandran completed her Diploma in Carnatic Vocal and obtained the title of Sangeetha Visharad from the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) in 1999. She has had over a decade of training with eminent vocalist Smt Mangalam Shankar in the nuanced methods of veteran Sangeetha Kalanidhi Sri. T M Thiragaran. Lavanya has performed widely as a soloist and an accompanying vocalist for dance recitals in Singapore and abroad. Notable events include Esplanade’s Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of Arts 2016 as a vocalist for the dance production Stree Shakti, Pitamaha and Kaatriniley as part of Esplanade’s Raga series in May 2017 and July 2021 and femiNINE, a solo dance production as part of Apsaras’ Darshana Series in October 2018. Lavanya has more recently embarked on music composition and has set the tune for several dance pieces as part of arangetrams and SIFAS alumni initiatives. She was also the music composer for the children’s theatre production Mighty Warrior Prince Bheema staged at Esplanade’s Kalaa Utsavam 2021. Lavanya has a Diploma in bharatanatyam and obtained the Natya Visharad title award from SIFAS in 2001. She has a PhD in Sociology and is currently a lecturer with the College of Alice & Peter Tan, National University of Singapore.


A Cappella – A Southeast Asian Perspective

Available from 14 Nov 2022, 10am

The rhythmic beats of the Malay kompang to the sonorous Indian tambura and the tuneful Chinese erhu—Each instrument listed here is an integral part of Singapore’s musical tapestry. How does an a cappella group then recreate these instruments with only the human voice? Join Cherie Chai, a vocal percussionist from Singaporean a cappella group 1023, as she teaches you how each instrument’s sound is produced.

Vocal Focal is a video series produced as part of Esplanade's Voices – A Festival of Song. This episode was released in 2022.

See Cherie perform live in A Capella Gala, happening on 4 Dec at Esplanade Concert Hall.


About Cherie Chai

Cherie Chai is the first full-time female vocal percussionist (VP) in Singapore, and the music director and resident arranger for award-winning a cappella group, 1023.

Chai has also worked with fellow Singaporean performers and put up multi-dimensional shows featuring collaborations between musical instruments and vocal percussion. Regionally, she has been featured as the guest vocal percussionist with the Young Kuala Lumpur Singers, and Malaysian vocal quartet Caipifruta.

During the pandemic, Chai conducted virtual workshops both in Singapore and internationally, teaching workshop participants how to best use the sound equipment that they already have so as to enable them to be clearly understood during online meetings, as well as to be able to continue making music during lockdowns. Chai also edited and mixed audio tracks for several virtual performance video productions ranging from individual multi-tracked songs to vocal ensembles and choirs.

As an educator, Chai is the conductor of several Singapore school choirs, and coaches tertiary a cappella groups SUTD Vocomotives, NTU Harmonix & SIT Just Singers. She frequently conducts a cappella and vocal percussion workshops for schools, sharing her love for the art form with youths.


Exploring your vocal registers

Available from 14 Nov 2022, 10am

Your voice is capable of many different expressions—Join Rachel as she explores two very different styles of singing that characterise certain genres, pop and classical, and see how you can go from one to the other.

Vocal Focal is a video series produced as part of Esplanade's Voices – A Festival of Song. This episode was released in 2022.


About Rachel Lim

Singaporean Soprano, vocal coach and arts educator Rachel Lim is well-versed in a variety of styles, expressing her versatility through performing classical, pop, jazz, R&B and musical theatre. She is also the founder and director of Singapore-based vocal teaching school, VOCA Academy and Adjunct Faculty lecturer in the Voice Department at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore (NUS).

Lim graduated with a Bachelor of Music with Honours (Distinction) degree in Vocal Performance from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, NUS. She received a double Masters in Vocal Pedagogy and Music Education (Autism Concentration) at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, USA. She is honoured to be a recipient of the National Arts Council Postgraduate Scholarship 2018 and grateful to receive generous support from the Trailblazer Foundation and Tan Kah Kee Foundation as one of the inaugural Li Siong Tay Scholarship awardees.

In her work as a vocal coach, Lim believes that each individual has a creative voice that can be used for self-expression and connection with others. Her goal is to help her students discover and find that voice in song through an awareness of the body and how it moves and functions with regards to singing. She believes that healthy singing comes from a combination of having a flexible voice and full-body engagement, which allows for greater freedom and expression. In her teaching, she also emphasises the importance of being a versatile singer and encourages her students to explore singing different styles and repertoire through cross-genre training. She also frequently conducts voice discovery workshops around Singapore to encourage a higher standard of effective voice production and singing.


Singing the jazzy blues like Nancy Wilson

Join jazz vocalist Alemay Fernandez, accompanied by pianist Chok Kerong, as she introduces her inspirational shero Nancy Wilson’s singing style and the impact Wilson has had on the jazz and music scene.

Vocal Focal is a video series produced as part of Esplanade's Voices – A Festival of Song. This episode was  released in 2021, in support of Giving Week.


About Alemay Fernandez

"AMAZING." – David Foster

"She’s a beyond highly decorated doyenne with a globally renowned gift that continues to give, gloriously." – Bandwagon Asia

"....Sultry vibes and Amazonian vocals to match her towering stature...she unleashed a passion that can only be described as breathtaking" – Storm-asia.com

Hailed by MusicTalks Sydney as "one of the best jazz singers in the world", Singaporean vocalist Alemay Fernandez is a veteran performer in the Asian jazz scene. In her illustrious 20-year career, she has performed with David Foster, Gregory Porter, Incognito, Ray Parker Jr, Nat Adderley Jr, Ernie Watts, Randy Brecker, Antonio Hart, Jay Anderson, Lewis Nash, Janis Siegel, Lauren Kinhan, The Platters' Bobby Soul and opened for Laura Fygi & Benny Golson. She is the only Asian singer to have performed with three of the top jazz orchestras in the world—Wynton Marsalis & The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Count Basie Orchestra and The Duke Ellington Orchestra. She has also been the entertainment of choice for visiting A-list celebrities and world leaders including Kevin Spacey, Ethan Hawke, Lea Salonga, Paloma Picasso, Serena Williams and former U.S. President, Barack Obama.

During the pandemic, Fernandez managed to clinch a virtual international appearance in an off-Broadway musical showcase The Perfect Fit.

Fernandez is known for her sultry tone, powerhouse vocals and an onstage presence that keeps the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. She has toured internationally, headlining at notable jazz venues and festivals worldwide including the legendary Birdland Jazz Club in New York, an honour only a handful of Asian jazz artists have had.

Fernandez is in constant demand at home in Singapore and has performed with all manner of Singapore orchestras and bands including the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Jazz Association of Singapore Orchestras, with whom she is regularly featured.

She is especially grateful to get to perform with her mentors, Cultural Medallion winners, "Mad Chinaman" Dick Lee and Singapore's "King of Swing" Jeremy Monteiro, and is a familiar face in their shows and concerts both locally and internationally.

As an educator, she has worked with vocal students of all ages around the world, conducting vocal and performance workshops. Fernandez served as Artistic Director for the Jazz at the Red Dot Workshop series (2017 – 2019) and also hosted her own jazz radio hour on Symphony 92.4FM (2017 – 2018). She is currently vocal coach for the National University of Singapore Jazz Band and has been a vocal lecturer at LASALLE College Of The Arts Singapore since 2012.


An evolution of musical theatre styles

Walk down the yellow brick road with TJ, Mina and Vanessa as they take you through the evolution of musical theatre using examples from The Wizard of Oz. They will also explain the various vocal styles and techniques of this genre, complete with performances of songs from The Wizard Of OzThe Wiz and Wicked.

Vocal Focal is a video series produced as part of Esplanade's Voices – A Festival of Song. This episode was released in 2021, in support of Giving Week.


About Sing’theatre Academy

Sing’theatre Academy is Singapore’s only dedicated musical theatre academy providing classes to students as young as four. Sing’theatre is one of Singapore’s top theatre companies producing shows with the aim of “performing for a better society.”

Mina Kaye is an award-winning actress known for her roles in Urinetown, Little Voice and A Spoonful of Sherman.

Vanessa Kee is a graduate of LASALLE College of the Arts and was recently seen in Urinetown and A Spoonful of Sherman.

TJ Taylor is a teacher and vocal coach from the UK who recently directed A Spoonful Of Sherman.

Follow Sing'theatre Academy on their website and on Instagram.


Singing in harmony

Adi and Steph presents several basic ways of singing in harmony, including singing in unison, intervals and the three-part harmony, as well as the theory behind it. This will be followed by a brief demonstration of all these tips and tricks using Bruno Mars' Just The Way You Are.

Vocal Focal is a video series produced as part of Esplanade's Voices – A Festival of Song. This episode was released in 2021, in support of Giving Week.


About Adi & Steph

Adi & Steph met in college days performing for the NUS Jazz Band, where they both struggled backstage to memorise their choreography for Earth, Wind & Fire’s September.

Adi dabbles in vocal arrangements and live acoustic performances and Steph enjoys everything from acting and singing onstage to recording commercial voice-overs.

They are brought together by a shared gravitation towards jazz, pop and musicals, but above all, their unparalleled, genuine love for Disney songs. Steph is the beauty to Adi’s beast and together, they’d challenge you to a Disney duel anytime.

For the first time in forever, they come together to bring these musical sensibilities and share with you their love for singing in harmony!

Follow Adi and Steph on Instagram.


Warming up and caring for your voice

Here are some simple physical and vocal exercises that will help you prepare for using your voice the right way. Explore key concepts for developing and maintaining a healthy voice, and learn how to connect your body, breath and voice, and experience balance and ease when vocalising.

Remember to download the accompanying voice health guide!

Vocal Focal is a video series produced as part of Esplanade's Voices – A Festival of Song. This episode was released in 2021, in support of Giving Week.


About Joel Tay

Joel Tay is an experienced Speech and Voice Therapist who has worked with people with communication and swallowing difficulties for the last 13 years. Tay currently teaches in the Masters in Speech-Language Pathology programme at the National University of Singapore. He graduated from NUS with a degree in psychology and a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology. His primary clinical focus is in the treatment and prevention of voice problems. In addition to that, he also has vast experience working with people with language and speech difficulties and swallowing problems.

Over the years, he has had the opportunity to speak and educate the public about voice science and persuasive communication. He has spoken at World Voice Day Singapore, Esplanade’s Voices – A Festival of Song, and worked with many schools and companies such as Ogilvy and Hilton Hotels.

Tay hopes to bridge the gap between voice science and art, and hopes to demystify the often confusing world of voice training. In recent years, he has seen an increasing number of singers and helping them understand and protect their voice. He is also passionate about helping teachers regain their voices, and to teach them how to use good vocal technique to better command a class.

On top of helping people achieve the best of their voices, Tay also records voiceovers for a number of studios and companies in Singapore. He has also emceed for performances at the Singapore Grand Prix, the Watoto Children’s Choir, the Victoria Concert Hall and at Esplanade.


About Jingyun Ng

Jingyun Ng is a performer, voice teacher and the founder of Know Your Voice, a mind-body exploration and vocal health workshop series. She delights in finding meaningful connections within ourselves and between people through performance, coaching and facilitating discussions about wellness of being.

Bringing her bold spirit to stage, experimental and commercial projects, Ng is acquainted with western classical new music, vocal improvisation and voiceover engagements. She frequently performs with collaborators including L’arietta, The Opera People, Theemptybluesky and The Madhatter Project. She graduated with Honours (Highest Distinction) in Vocal Performance from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (NUS), and is an alumna of School of the Arts, Singapore. Her principal voice teachers include Akiko Otao, Alan Bennett and Thomas Manhart.

As a voice coach, Ng guides individuals to discover their vocal and artistic potential through equipping them with experiential knowledge of their psychophysical selves. She nurtures readiness for life-long voice work in singing with stylistic sensibility and versatility, and in speaking with a dynamic and supple voice. She currently teaches in her private studio, while completing her Graduate Certificate of Counselling with Swinburne University of Technology. She plans to continue her Alexander Technique teacher training in 2022.

Follow Jingyun on Instagram and Facebook.


Warm up your vocal cords

Voices – A Festival of Song 2022

Journey with song as we connect with one another through the beauty of vocal music!

1 – 4 Dec 2022
Find out more
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