Safe-distanced Singapore National Day Parade 2020 to feature thousands-strong virtual choir, short films

The NDP 2020 evening show will feature inspiring stories of 31 everyday Singaporeans through a series of films and performances. — Picture by NDP2020 Exco via TODAY
The NDP 2020 evening show will feature inspiring stories of 31 everyday Singaporeans through a series of films and performances. — Picture by NDP2020 Exco via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Aug 1 — A virtual choir performance compiled from the vocal efforts of several thousand Singaporeans who submitted video clips is shaping up as the highlight of this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) evening show on Aug 9.

The choral performance of We Are Singapore will follow a series of short films and interviews profiling 31 Singaporeans — the most in any NDP show. These clips will be interspersed with performances by local artistes.

“2020 has not been rosy, but amidst the struggle, there have been incredible acts of kindness, resilience and unity, which we want to share with the rest of Singapore,” the show’s creative director Royston Tan said at a press briefing on Thursday (July 30).

Instead of the dazzling displays and crowds that have been the mainstay of past parade shows, Singapore’s 55th birthday celebration held amid the Covid-19 crisis will feature several new arrangements, including scaled-down performances and much smaller audiences.

For one thing, the year’s show at the performing arts centre at Star Vista will feature only 87 performers, down from the 3,000-odd of previous years.

The parade will also be split into two segments — a national broadcast of the Prime Minister’s National Day Message and a parade at the Padang in the morning and the artistic performances in the evening.

The evening show will take place in small group performances, led by more than 20 local artistes including singers Charlie Lim, Dick Lee and Nathan Hartono.

It will also feature younger performers such as violinist Jaz Low, 22, who rose to fame earlier in the year for her rendition of former National Day theme song Home on the balcony of the hotel where she was serving her stay-home notice.

This year’s parade is themed Together, A Stronger Singapore and the six-act performance will take audiences through the country’s journey through the pandemic, from the struggles citizens faced when Covid-19 struck to how frontline workers stepped up and Singaporeans supported each other to emerge from the crisis stronger.

The show, which organisers said had been designed for the home audience, will be broadcast on national television and streamed on social media platforms Facebook and YouTube. A digital show guide will also be released in the coming days.

“This year, the canvas of our NDP is not the floating platform but across the country,” the show’s committee chairman Colonel Wong Shi Ming said.

Around 150 “representatives of society” will attend the show, down from the tens of thousands members of the public in previous years.

Following a public warning siren that will be sounded nationwide that will mark the end of the show at 8.20pm (or 2020hrs to mark the year), citizens will be asked to take the national pledge together from their homes.

Singaporeans are also encouraged to join in the “light up moment” after taking the pledge by attaching a red filter to the torches on their phones and turning them on at their windows and balconies to show gratitude to frontline workers and essential service workers. The filters can be found in the Singapore Together packs that were distributed last week.

The finale will be concluded with fireworks across Singapore.

Safe measures in place

Organisers offered assurances that safe measures are in place to prevent the spread of the virus among the performers during rehearsals as well as participants during the parade.

“We take the health and safety of our participants very seriously,” Col Wong said.

All performers and crew are to take two Covid-19 swab tests, one in July and one in August before the parade. They have also committed to staying at home, apart from rehearsals, in the week leading up to National Day to prevent the possibility of getting infected from the public.

Rehearsals have also been staggered and held in separate locations. When participants are not performing, they are segregated into groups of five to rest and eat.

Dancers are kept at least 1m apart in the choreography for the entire show and each performance segment has been kept short to reduce contact among performers.

Performers also have to wear masks for all rehearsals, except during strenuous dance routines. Singers are allowed to unmask only during brief periods when they are singing and microphones are not being shared.

Microphones, costumes, props as well as rehearsal and holding venues are being regularly disinfected.

Organisers said they have deployed personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces to ensure adherence to these measures.

“It has been an incredibly meaningful journey to organise the NDP Show this year.” Col Wong said. “We hope that the voices of Singaporeans that we hear in the show will bring hope and optimism to all of us.” — TODAY

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