International touch at Singapore Xmas concert

Last night's Christmas concert at St Joseph's Church in Victoria Street was an international affair, with a tree decorated by foreign dignitaries and carols from 35 countries sung in a performance.

But it was also a very Singaporean celebration, with a tribute to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and a carol written for SG50.

The annual Christmas concert of the Cathedral Choir of the Risen Christ kicked off with excerpts from Handel's Messiah and carols. Then, it was time to decorate the 2.7m-high tree. Placing the first bauble was Dr Lee Suan Yew, brother of Mr Lee. The ornament designed in memory of the late prime minister bore his silhouette alongside the five stars of the Singapore flag.

Next, the 35 invited ambassadors and high commissioners each added an ornament in the colours of their country's flag and emblazoned with a miniature flag.

From North and South America to Europe and Asia, the international nature of the participants was in line with the concert's theme of peace in the world, said choir founder-director Peter Low.

Countries represented at the concert for the first time were Cuba, Mongolia, Turkey and Vietnam.

Last year, President Tony Tan Keng Yam hung Singapore's ornament. This year, it was Mr J. Y. Pillai, chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers.

The final stretch of the celebration featured carols from 35 countries, sung in their respective languages. Singapore was represented by a carol composed for the nation's 50th birthday by Dr Low. "It's about how Singapore, as an example of harmonious living, can be a model for the world," he said.

The carol's lyrics include the observation that people are "different but equal", and the hope that the "little red dot" of Singapore can become a beacon for the world.

This article was first published on December 7, 2015.
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