Sara and Jeremy
Sara Nicole Tan and Jeremy Chua are student leaders from the ESPRIMERE Singing Club in SIM, performing the roles of President and Publicity Manager respectively. Whilst neither of them are professional singers, they take their musical craft extremely serious and juggle their artistic passions with the demanding degrees that they are pursuing in university; Jeremy is pursuing degree in sociology, while Sara is pursuing a double degree in business and economics. We sit down to have a chat with them about their musical aspirations and what they hope they can accomplish through and in music.
When did you guys start performing?
Sara: I did some singing in primary school and secondary school. I grew up in a musical family so I did start singing from a young age. But it wasn’t until after I joined ESPRIMERE, that I realized that a lot more goes into singing, that it’s not just a God-given talent.
Jeremy: I don’t really want to put an exact age or number to it, but I think I really started singing when I began wanting to improve myself and hone my musical skills. And if I had to give an age, I think I was 13 or 14 around the time I started taking music seriously.
What do you like most about singing, and performing in general?
Jeremy: I like that music provides a platform for self-expression, a way to express the human condition in a compact and digestible format.
Sara: There are a lot of things I like about singing, but the best part is that it’s a way for me to express my emotions. I don’t really like to talk feelings. But music gives me a way to express my emotions when I need to. I can express my feelings through the songs, through the music, through the melody.
Both of you mention music being a mode for expressing yourself, be it your feelings or your views about certain facets of the human psyche. This leads me to wonder whether you have any general or even specific aspirations for your music?
Jeremy: I don’t want people to admire me or my music, I want them to understand where I’m coming from and what I’m trying to say. I believe that sharing and connecting with people allows a person to experience what it is like to truly be human; it allows a person to achieve a greater sense of actualization, a sense of something transcendent and greater than yourself. The degree I’m pursuing in Sociology also deals with this idea of connection between people, and I think it is something interests me in both the artistic and academic aspect of my life.
Wow, it’s really cool how your academics and artistic pursuits feed into each other. Sara, your degree is in something quite different, but is there a way your academics temper your understanding or interaction with your artistic endeavors?
Sara: If I were to relate my academics to my singing in a certain way, it would apply mostly to the way the music industry would look like, and marketing my singing club, ESPRIMERE. I would say that studying economics and business is actually really helpful in the running of the club. Economics is the allocation of limited resources efficiently, and in the club we have to manage the varied number of talents, people who do different genres, and since each person specializes a lot, our job is to make sure that everyone is working where they should be. It really helps to hone this managerial sense. But at the same time, ESPRIMERE is a family, it’s a place where everyone comes together to form a big band, very different people just click here together somehow somewhere. They are not just acquaintances, and they really make university life worth it.
It’s quite clear, that the club matters a lot, a lot, a lot to you guys. It’s one of your artistic outlets, and it’s a group to which you dedicate a lot of yourself. I think one question many peers would want to ask is: how do you do it? How do you manage intense academic pursuits and your passion?
Jeremy: Sacrifice. You have to see the timing of each thing – I don’t think there’s a way to perfectly balance, at least in my case, given the heavy workload I have now. So I sacrifice a bit here and there, and I think you have to prioritize because there’s no way to be perfect in everything. If you try to be perfect in everything you’ll end up drained and exhausted and your work will lose meaning.
Sara: Yeah, and don’t just plan, actually do it!
It’s amazing how you guys are driven to elevate your artistic abilities to greater heights and challenge yourself; I understand that you will be involved in the upcoming TO Ensemble concert, The Land with No Sun III: Songs of the Skies. What are your thoughts on and how do you feel about collaborating with professionals?
Jeremy: Our collaboration with Tze started because of school song he helped us compose. We were involved in the singing of the song, and it was such a great experience. Working with a professional was the first time I had direction during a recording, compared to amateur recordings where everything is self-directed. There was some technical aspect to the direction but there was a lot of feeling involved also: at some points Tze would tell us be sadder for a certain point of the song or to emote a different feeling. It really helped because as a professional he knew what he wanted and had a vision for it.
Sara: It’s also really exciting because this is our first time working as part of a big professional production. It’s a chance for us to learn how a big professional production is done, and also how to work with a big ensemble of professionals.
TO Ensemble’s music is in line with a certain philosophy that the Ensemble possesses, and a philosophy that this newsletter strives to communicate. What are your thoughts on the interrelationships between Man, Nature and Science that TO Ensemble’s music and newsletter attempt to convey?
Sara: It makes a lot of sense to me, and I think it’s very true. We see that every move someone makes has an impact, so it’s true that overtime, everything is interconnected in one way or another. It then becomes a question of how the various aspects interplay, and how we can use the interconnection to better ourselves, and the world.
Jeremy: I feel like it’s a lot for the ensemble to try and put across, and I’ll be very excited to see it work and help people understand these interconnections.