A cappella has been around for centuries. Back then, this non-instrumental vocal performance was performed in the religious rituals. By the 20th century, A cappella has evolved from barbershop music to pop variation as we know today. Among some of the popular A cappella songs are The Nylons’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. Of course, today’s generation is more familiar with the likes of Pentatonix’s “Daft Punk” and the first two Pitch Perfect movies. Now, you can add this talented Singaporean A cappella group, 1023, to the list.
Cherie Chai, the group’s music director and resident vocal percussionist, was the one who brought them together when they first volunteered for the 2015 Singapore’s Golden Jubilee commemorative video. Thanks to the success of the video, Cherie subsequently wanted to make the group permanent. Hence, 1023 was eventually formed as an A cappella group. Apart from Cherie, the group includes Ang Yi Feng (tenor), Charmaine Loh (alto), Hewlett Chew (bass), Dionne Lim (soprano) and Choy Siew Woon (mezzo-soprano). They came from different professions. One of them is a full-time psychology undergraduate, while others are music educators, marketing and legal professionals.
The Origin of the Group Name
If you think their group name “1023” (pronounced “ten-twenty-three”) is just some random numbers, think again. Apparently, they first came up with the name when some of their group members’ self-professed tech geeks acknowledged that 1024 MB (megabytes) is equivalent to 1 G (gigabyte or “gig”). Soon, they adopted the name “1023” since they are “short of a gig[abyte]”. To sum it up, the name represents their “constant pursuit for more performance opportunities to share [their] love for music”. Moreover, the name “1023” was coincidentally decided on October 23.
Covering from Classic to Contemporary Hits
No doubt a versatile group, 1023 has performed various A cappella renditions of both classic and contemporary pop songs. Among them are Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling”. To date, they have performed in various occasions from the 2015 opening ceremony of the 8th ASEAN Para Games to events like weddings and Christmas carolling.
An Extraordinary A Cappella Group
What sets 1023 apart from the other A cappella groups is their multilingual singing deliveries. In fact, they can sing four different languages including English, Malay, Mandarin and Hokkien! If that’s not enough, they have recently premiered their medley in Tamil. They also currently working with the National Arts Council in Singapore to perform a contemporary A cappella version of Cantonese opera.
Life As A Cappella Performers
Like every other profession, there is always an upside and downside of being an A cappella group. But 1023 is a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. For instance, some of their group members have to juggle between their singing passions and regular day jobs. Other times, they tend to face some technical issues during a live performances. Nevertheless, they often overcome these challenges by embracing their strong team spirits and unity as a group.
“Music Unifies, and is for Everyone”
The philosophy above is what drives 1023 as a group until today. They believe that no matter what age or cultural background you are coming from, everybody with a passion for music can perform an A cappella. Best of all, A cappella is a low-cost music that doesn’t require any instrument other than your beautiful vocal.
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