SINGAPORE - The festive mood for this year's carnival- themed ChildAid was set even before the doors opened at the Marina Bay Sands' Sands Theatre.
Before each of the three shows last Friday and Saturday, sequinned masquerade masks, packets of rainbow-coloured jelly beans and Chupa Chups lollipops were handed out to the audiences.
Roving mascots in the shape of musical instruments milled around, gamely posing for photos and interacting with children.
When the curtains rose, the audiences in the 1,680-seat Sands Theatre were treated to a dizzying line-up of instrumental music, dance, vocals, circus acts, aerial acrobatics and gymnastics against changing backdrops and props including cardboard animals, hot-air balloons, hearts and psychedelic multimedia projections.
The show's four emcees - Dennis Sofian, 19; Leong Su Yean, 12; Zora Imani Smith, 16; and Natasha Anne Vokes, 12 - or "ringmasters" as they called themselves, provided lively banter in between introducing the 23 acts.
During the show on the opening night, they called on guest of honour Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong to settle a debate if the male or female performers were better.
Mr Wong raised both thumbs, indicating they were equally good.
The action-packed concert included aerial acrobats from Circus Swingapore who hung from silk ribbons and hoops and spun around while performers from Circus Infinity - made up of youth from Metta School, Katong School and Salvation Army's circus groups - juggled clubs, spun flags and walked on fitness balls, among other tricks. Gymnasts from CHIJ Kellock, aged nine to 12, showed off their moves.
The singers were not to be outdone. A cappella group The 4 of Us from Kuala Lumpur showed off powerful vocals with their rendition of Beyonce's End Of Time and Lady Gaga's Edge Of Glory, while local act That Acappella Group, from ITE Centre for Music and the Arts, energised the audiences with their take on songs by or featuring rapper Pitbull: Give Me Everything, On The Floor and Rain Over Me.
Charming the audiences were the show's youngest performers, who received some of the loudest applause. Six-year-old Jessie Meng impressed with her deft fingerwork on the piano, playing Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 8, while the trio of songbirds Anne-Sophie Cazaubon, six, Akira McLatchie, seven, and Noa Suzuki, 10, had the audiences clapping along by the end of their medley - Over The Rainbow, Lollipop and It's A Small World. The male performers also held their own. The all-male trio - Timothy Ng, 18, Divesh Subaskaran, 15, and Jerry Ng, 17 - gave their respective takes on Britney Spears' Oops, I Did It Again, Tracy Chapman's Baby Can I Hold You and Christina Aguilera's Reflection, before combining their voices to David Guetta's dance hit Titanium, while the audiences waved their lightsticks.
The part-piano performance and part-skit by Animato Quad - comprising Jonathan Tan, 17, Marc Neo, 15, Shawn Loh and Luke Wong, both 16 - had concertgoers in stitches.
Comic moments were woven into their eight-hand piano performance - all four of them playing one piano at the same time - of Albert Lavignac's Galop Marche, with members standing at times to don a bowler hat, do a jiggle or dance as a pair.
Business development manager Jonas Lim, 48, who attended the opening night performance, said that was the most memorable act for him. "The humour brightened up the whole thing. It was very creative."
Rounding off the concert were Se, the love theme from the film Cinema Paradiso (1988), sung by Corey Koh, 11, and Ananya Ravishankar Diddapur, 13; a concerto for two pianos played by Japanese guest performer Ryuhi Arai, 12, and Singaporean Pung Rae Yue, 10; and the Carnival Of The Animals Finale played by Kartik Kunasegaran, 19, and Nicole Ong, 15, on the piano.
The entire cast of more than 160 youth, including the Orchestra of the Music Makers and kids'philharmonic@sg, also performed the ChildAid theme song, A World To Imagine, and a medley of Christmas tunes.
The ninth edition of the annual concert - with Marina Bay Sands as the official venue partner and Citi Singapore and HSBC as main sponsors - raised $2.035 million. Proceeds from the show go to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.
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