Gala Concert @ The Esplanade on 6 Jun 2009

Ning & I have been booked to be a featured highlight in a special one-night-only gala concert at the 1600-seat Esplanade Concert Hall organized by the Old Victorians Associations (OVA) representing Victoria School (VS) & Victoria Junior College (VJC).

Entitled “Nil Sine Labore” (the Victorian motto which means “Nothing Without Labour”), this concert is to celebrate the musical/artistic achievements of Victorians over the years. Directed by Mr Iskandar Ismail, this is an inaugural effort to bring together both Victoria School & Victoria Junior College, as well as ex-alumni who have made their mark in the different forms of performing arts today.

We will be presenting 3 illusions as part of our act inclusive of debuting our brand new “360 Sawing” for this gala concert…. I can’t imagine our modern industrial intepretation of this illusion being on the stage of the Esplanade… what a juxtaposition of styles.

This is the first time for us on the Esplanade stage and being booked to perform is the only way we would have wanted to take the stage.


The reason why we got booked (or rather I got booked and Ning is along for the ride 🙂 ) is because I’m an ex-Victorian, both VS & VJC.

And here’s an ironic story regarding me, magic and VJC. When I was in year two in VJC, I wrote a General Paper essay entitled “What is your favourite performing art? And why?”. Obviously, I wrote a prolific essay on magic which I was proud of. To my greatest surprise, when I was returned the graded paper… I had failed. Now, I was an A1 O’ Level English student and had never ever scored anything less than an A2 for English… yet I failed this essay?

The reason was revealed by the marks/ notes scribbled by the teacher. Content – O. “Your essay was out of point. Magic is Not a performing art. It is an amusement for kids. Please be more discerning”

You can imagine my fury and argued for my case but was dismissed. He claimed he consulted many teachers who felt the same. I gave up and just pitied him for his lack of a cultured and laterally objective mind. It reminded me later of Fred Smith who wrote a paper for an economics class in Yale, outlining an overnight delivery service. He received a C (but did not fail) because the professor felt it was an interesting concept but impractical. Fred then went on to set up Federal Express or FedEx as it is better known now.

So, it is completely ironic that 15 years after failing this essay, I would go on to win a first place award presented by the National University Centre for the Arts in 1997, perform magic across the world, present two mega illusions for collectively 15,000 people and star in Singapore’s first permanent illusion show. And then be invited by OVA to represent Victorians who have made achievements in the performing arts and be part of a concert that is held in Singapore’s premier performing arts venue.

Back then, I’m sure the teacher thought of me as ignorant and uninformed … the difference is, 15 years ago I knew it was the other way around…. Now, I’m sure he knows too.


About J C Sum

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12 Responses to Gala Concert @ The Esplanade on 6 Jun 2009

  1. ysh says:

    Lovely…… Is this particular teacher invited back for the concert? I hope he is. 😛

  2. MysteryM says:

    irony man. irony. if I gotten a fail for my essay in school because the teacher felt that Magic is not an ART form, I would have seriously argued my case with footage after footage of magic, its history and even more evidence and how it is an art form. but what is past is past i suppose.

  3. ZY90 says:

    darn. i dont get to see the debut of 360 Sawing at the esplanade. looks like only victorians people can go watch it for its debut performance.

  4. Mugger86 says:

    Alright. You guys on the esplanade stage! Woohoo.. I can tell you, performing on the esplanade is thrilling! The stage, the chairs. I recall performing there for my school anniversary a few years back too. The acoustics there is impressive. You guys would surely enjoy performing there.

  5. Shiba1987 says:

    “Your essay was out of point. Magic is Not a performing art. It is an amusement for kids. Please be more discerning” that must have really made you angry. I know I would if I poured my heart and soul into the essay. Maybe you should bring along your essay to the performance and try to get the GP teachers there to remark it. That would make a great story. 😛

  6. cardistry2007 says:

    thats a pretty cool story you have there. it looks like the story is coming to a full circle in june. hopefully, the teacher who marked you paper then is also at the show that day. that would be rather interesting.

  7. Aaron says:

    yea yea, it would be best for the teacher to be at the same concert. if i were you, i’d have humiliated him/her in front of everyone. but then again, i’m being very mean.. haha..

  8. Jack says:

    wow, that must have hurt.. fortunately that never occured to me before. i would probably like write to some university or something to ask them and prove the teacher wrong.. :p

  9. Carol says:

    You know what? 11 years ago, I had failed my promos back in VJC.

    I was retained, and most painfully of it all – removed from the VJC Choir (which as you know for any choral singer, is the worst pain to inflict). Yet today I’m somehow in the management council and now producing this concert.

    Strange huh.

  10. Pingback: International Brotherhood of Magicians Supports “The Impossible Record” « BACKSTAGE BUSINESS: The Art, Science & Business of Showbiz by J C Sum

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