Tuesday, 21 June 2016

NDP 2016 theme song captures spirit of Singapore's future

Tomorrow's Here Today is composed by Don Richmond and performed by band 53A
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 20 Jun 2016

This year's National Day Parade (NDP) theme song and its accompanying music video will both carry elements in tune with the occasion's futuristic theme of "Building our Singapore of tomorrow".

When writing the song's music and lyrics, composer Don Richmond said he had one burning question in mind after Singapore's Golden Jubilee: "What would the first song be to start off the next 50 years?"

The result was Tomorrow's Here Today, an upbeat pop anthem rallying Singaporeans to ponder about the country's future.

It is performed by local band 53A - a fixture at night spots such as Hive by Wala Wala and Timbre @ The Substation. The young, six-member group is known for its covers of songs across different genres, from pop and rock to punk and jazz.

Mr Richmond, 39, described the tune, which took 11/2 months to complete, as one filled with "youthful energy" and "something that people can tap their feet to".

As with most of his songs, inspiration came in the shower.

"When I was shampooing my hair... I was thinking to myself, what would really be the best title for it?" recalled Mr Richmond, the son of radio DJ Brian Richmond.

"I was humming 'Tomorrow's here today, tomorrow's here today.' I went, 'You know what? That could be a great title for a song.' And then I worked backwards from there.

"If you are going to build the future, it has to start today. You can't wait till tomorrow."

His favourite line is the chorus "Dream away/Take the world by the hand."

"The whole idea of taking the world by the hand is really leading... So we are not just following the trend. We are not just going with the flow. We are taking charge and taking the lead," he added.

Writing this year's NDP song probably came with less pressure than what singer-songwriter Dick Lee faced when penning a tune for last year's Golden Jubilee, said Mr Richmond.

But he is ready to face any flak that is often thrown at new NDP songs. "I'm ready to be judged. I honestly feel the worst thing that you can do is try to think that you have to please everyone," he said.

Coming up with a video to capture the song's aspirational mood was no simple task either - it involved more than 400 people over four months.

In the film, young dancers frolic in front of old shophouses and food stalls, while colourful lanterns mirror the eclectic ethnic costumes moving beneath them.

The video was shot to look like it was filmed in one continuous take, and used "green screen" backdrops, which were later digitally replaced with other images.

Video producer Huang Junxiang, 27, said: "We wanted to go with something technically advanced because of this year's theme."

One advantage of using green screens instead of shooting outdoors was the ability for the video producers to "cram in as many icons of Singapore as possible", from old shophouses to the Esplanade, he added.

Lieutenant-Colonel Shane Lim, 36, chairman of this year's NDP multimedia committee, said the video allows the audience to "feel as if they are part of it".

He added: "It is bold. There is a lot of innovation, a lot of coordination involved, and this really captures the essential elements that are necessary in building our Singapore of tomorrow."

Performers with special needs show parade is 'for everyone'
By Janice Tai, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2016

All eyes will be on 150 special-needs participants this National Day as they lead a crowd of 275,000 at the National Stadium in hand-signing to two popular songs.

In this "song-signing", the audience will be invited to follow sign language cues to Home and Count On Me, Singapore.

It is the first time that the annual parade will feature song-signing, and this will be the largest group of special-needs participants involved in the national celebrations.

The 150 performers come from seven voluntary welfare organisations that span a wide spectrum of special needs, including hearing and visual impairments and physical and intellectual disabilities.

"These special-needs participants will be given a very prominent role," said President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who visited Touch Community Services in Ubi during its weekly rehearsal yesterday.

"It represents our recognition that the parade is for everybody. Singapore is for everybody," he noted.

"That is what we want to build for the Singapore of tomorrow - not only economic success, which is necessary, but also for people to look after one another."

Mr Danny Loke, a senior manager at Touch, who is helping to prepare participants for the show, said they have gone through two-hour sessions every week to learn how to sign, as well as training to get physically fit.

They are achieving this goal through aerobic dance, stretching and other exercises to help them build up their stamina and hone their coordination so they can perform on stage.

"But the challenge is not in how to prepare them for the event, but rather in how to get the creative team and chaperones from the armed forces to understand the needs and limitations of the participants, yet not belittle what each of them can do," said Mr Loke.

Ms Ng Kai Chin, 27, who has hearing impairment and intellectual disability, said: "The song-signing is quite easy, and I am happy to be involved as it is my first time at the parade."

Said another participant, 40-year-old Shoban Ganaash Pillai, who has an intellectual disability: "I like to watch the National Day Parade, and I hope this first parade at the National Stadium will be better than the ones held at the Padang."

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