To be able to provide solace, to evoke emotions, to forge bonds – music’s magical prowess surpasses even that of Dumbledore’s. Whatever the genre, each person is under the spell of music. As for me, it was while I was singing amongst 500 other singers that I was enchanted by music; I realised the quintessential beauty of music as hundreds of voices resonated as one. I was overwhelmed. This sole performance with my choir and many other choirs in Hong Kong was the seed of my love for music. Also, unfortunately for me, at the time of my visit, Hong Kong’s Disneyland was a mere month away from opening and I could not visit the much-loved castle.

In Singapore, it is mandatory to take up a core co-curricular activity (CCA) and I chose choir only because a friend joined the school choir. At that time, choir, to me, was just another CCA. But in retrospect, I had actually set out on a voyage, one that would conceive my love for music – a voyage of songs.

Throughout the course of my journey, I had to learn several songs that were in an alien language to me; we were expected to learn the meaning of the words and enunciate the words perfectly. I have sung in Latin, Filipino, Malay, Mandarin, French, Tamil, Japanese – but the queerest songs I had to learn were ‘Wawaki’ and ‘Apamuy Shungo,’ both of which are in Quichua, an Ecuadorian language. It is said that music is the language of the soul which cannot be translated. When we perform on stage, the audience, for the most part, has zero modicum of clue as to what the words mean but we still receive standing ovations and rave reviews. Why? It is because music transcends language barriers. I understood this and my love for music swelled.

Even if you do speak that language, words simply fail to express what music can. The song ‘When David Heard’ is about David receiving news about his son’s death and he claims ‘my son’ in disbelief. In the 15-minute-long song, singers repeatedly sing the phrase, ‘my son,’ for a good 12 minutes. On paper that sounds very dreary but on stage, the mood is so dolorous that the sorrow becomes tangible. And at that delicate moment, if you do something silly like yawn, you will momentarily become public enemy number one.

For many of us, music has been a pillow, a shoulder, a towel to cry on – the reason why we have an affinity with music. In my third year of singing in a choir, I had to sing a solo in the song ‘Amazing Grace’ and it was an absolute godsend. Apparently at that time, my friend’s grandfather had passed away but my friend was too grief-stricken to tell anyone. After the performance, he thanked me, leaving me perplexed. I later found out that the song reminded him of his late grandfather and singing the song gave him some solace. Music gave me the power to reach out to a friend even without me knowing – music truly is a magic beyond Harry Potter’s world.

In addition to consoling a friend, the performance did something else too, it fortified our bond. Music bonded us closer. Even outside choir practices, my friends and I would break out into a song anywhere, anytime. Be it bus-stops, shopping malls, restaurants – real life musicals do exist! Bemused passer-bys would stare at us but we had not a care in the world as we were bonded with a common passion: a love for music. The power to bond is not restricted to choirs alone; songs such as national anthems have the power to evoke patriotism and unite millions of people as one nation. As for my choir, we would sing our school anthem with unmatched vigour after major performances or after winning competitions; we would lose our voices after that.

My voyage of songs led me to through Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Czech Republic and Vienna and at each of these pit-stops, the seed that was planted in Hong Kong, burgeoned. The triumphs and defeats we experienced were just titles; the process of music-making was what mattered. My love for music runs very deep with fond memories attached to it. And it has grown ever since migrating to Nepal; I have developed a passion for dance music but that is a whole different story.