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ChildAid celebrates 15 years of giving back
ORGANISED by The Business Times and The Straits Times, ChildAid 2019 was marked by a dash of nostalgia, a sprinkle of stardom and whole lot of good music.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary on Wednesday evening, the annual children's charity concert showcased the talents of 132 children aged six to 19 on Singapore's grandest stage, the Esplanade Theatre.
Fittingly, some of performers were beneficiaries of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BTBAF) and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) - the two charities for which the concert was raising funds. BTBAF provides arts training for financially disadvantaged children, while STSPMF helps such children pay for lunch and transport to school. Over the years, the two funds have helped more than 170,000 children.
Produced by Dick Lee Asia, the concert opened with adorable six-year-old Joseph Xu playing Bach's Invention 8 confidently on a Steinway grand piano. The show then segued into various musical items, including a breathtaking acrobatic dance and a drum-and-guitar battle among three boys.
Many singers impressed. Eleven-year-old Faith Ong, a budding coloratura soprano, trilled classic aria O Mio Babbino Caro. Thirteen-year-old Syah Riszuan crooned Journey's power ballad Open Arms, complete with Steve Perry-style vibrato. And seven-year-old Zach Edwards melted hearts as lonely orphan Oliver Twist singing "Where Is Love?" from Oliver!.
In a nod to its history, the concert took a moment to reflect on its journey thus far. Videos projected onto the backdrop featured interviews with successful alumni such as pop star Nathan Hartono, who sang in the first ChildAid concert in 2005 at age 15, and classical guitarist Kevin Loh, who has scooped countless international music awards since performing in ChildAid 2008 and 2010.
They and other musicians such as professional soprano Janani Sridhar, pianist Abigail Sin and singer-composer Amni Musfirah spoke of how ChildAid had shaped them.
As the evening drew to a close, ChildAid's creative director and veteran musician Dick Lee took to the stage to sing two of his iconic hits, Bunga Sayang and Fried Rice Paradise. He sang the former solo while playing the piano, and the latter with the full cast of 132 enthusiastic kids.
At press time, the concert appeared on track to raise over S$2 million for the two charities. United Overseas Bank Limited donated S$1 million, while Citi Singapore contributed S$652,000. JKiss92FM is the official radio station for ChildAid 2019.
Pitching in for the cause were production partners Cosmoprof and Unusual Productions, as well as rehearsal venue partners Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and The Pavilion at Far East Square.
ChildAid 2019 runs for a second night on Nov 21, with President Halimah Yacob as guest of honour.