Government bans choir performance at Speakers’ Corner

January 27, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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The Government has pulled the plug on performances by a group known as the Complaints Choir. The unique performance comprises of complaints of society written into songs.

The group was started in Finland and has performed in several cities around the world. One suspects that Singapore is the first place that has banned the performance.

The police have insisted that the foreign members of the choir are not allowed to participate in the singing. The SDP understands that the police also warned the organizers that they didn’t want to be filmed telling foreigners to step down from the group during the performance.

Not wanting to split the foreigners from the locals, the organisers decided to cancel the public performances and move them to them indoors to The Chamber at The Arts House (old Parliament House).

There were two performances today. There will be two more tomorrow starting at 3 pm and 6:30 pm. To obtain tickets please email [email protected] or call The Complaints Choir Hotline at 9690 7453 (see Press Release below). Alternatively you can go to the Chamber itself and look for the organizers who will issue the tickets.

The organizers have asked for this private invitation message to be passed around.

Press release: Singapore police rejects application for complain choir to perform at Speakers’ Corner
Complaints Choir Project
26 Jan 08
http://www.timeout.com/sg/en/performance/Comedy/m1-singapore-fringe-festival-2008-complaints-choir-project

Listen to Singaporeans weave their complaints into songs. Started by a Finnish duo in 2005, the project has been to Helsinki, St Petersburg, Birmingham, Jerusalem and Alaska, conducting workshops and giving people a whole new way to complain – in chorus. See our “Fringe benefits” feature.

We’ve just gotten news about our license application for THE COMPLAINTS CHOIR PROJECT (performances at various public spaces today). While we were given a license, this is a conditional one – no foreigners (i.e. a handful of the participants, the artists themselves and our conductor) are allowed to perform with the Choir. This is across the board and not only applicable for Speaker’s Corner (which has a regulation that states that non-Singaporeans aren’t allowed to perform there).

Naturally, this comes as a total shock to us, but we have discussed this amongst ourselves, with the artists and Choir. It is clear that we all do not want the Choir to be split up in any way.

As such, a few decisions have been made:

1) All public performances will be cancelled. We will put signages at the venues to inform people of this.

2) Instead, we will have private invite-only performances of the full Singapore Complaints Choir on both Sat 26th Jan and Sun 27th Jan, 3pm and 6.30pm at The Chamber at The Arts House.

3) Please help us spread the word to your friends, families and anyone else who is keen to watch the free performances.

4) To obtain invites, interested audience members can email [email protected] or call The Complaints Choir Hotline at 9690 7453. Alternatively, if you turn up at the venue prior to the show, please let one of us know (we will be at The Chamber). We will issue private-event invitations for the special performances.”

Chorus of Complaints
Ng Yan Bo
Channel News Asia
15 Jan 08

It’s no secret that Singaporeans love to complain. In fact, reports have showed that complaining is the fifth most cited essential trait of a typical Singaporean. And there are countless ways to complain – some lament to friends, others write a petition to the government, a few have even taken to the streets with placards.

But how about a more peaceful and therapeutic way of voicing your displeasure? This new form of complaining is so unique that it’s guaranteed to garner more attention than yet another letter to the Forum.

Meet the Complaints Choir Project – a Finnish organisation which teaches people all over the world to sing about their displeasures to fellow citizens.

Started by Finnish duo Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, the movement has met resounding success in its travels to Helsinki, Birmingham, Hamburg and St Petersburg.

No complaint is too big or too small, and they can range from broken underpants to snoring husbands to offices with Siberian temperatures. Members in each choir decide on their favourite gripes that will make the lyrics, and a local composer makes sure the song has its city’s unique sound.

Project co-founder Kalleinen said that complaining is a universal activity, and instead of suppressing unhappy feelings or just dutifully whining, the act of complaining should be turned into something more rewarding – it should be sung and shared with others.

“We find that people use a lot of time and energy to complain so we thought it would be great to use this kind of energy for something creative,” he said.

According to the co-founder, most complaints are similar around the world – unfriendly people who make others’ lives miserable, bad public transport systems, too much advertisements, bad hair days, income tax, and of course, the universal misery: money’s never enough.

However, Kalleinen said that listening to complaints for a job is not a pain to him and his co-founder, as they get to see each city in a different light.

“It’s very interesting for us because whenever we visit a new city we hear a huge bunch of unique complaints so we get a very vivid, real-life image of the city,” he said.

Unusual complaints which the duo has heard around the world include boring dreams in Helsinki and noisy traditional folk dancing classes in Hungarian apartments.

Of course, in Singapore for its Southeast Asia premier as part of the Singapore M1 Fringe Festival, Kalleinen has expected to hear some truly uniquely Singaporean complaints which most Singaporeans, and only Singaporeans, can identify with.

According to Melissa Lim, manager of the Festival, complaints have been streaming in from Singaporeans from as young as 14 years old to as old as 73 years old.

Expect the usual complaints such as the lack of time and terrible cab drivers to distinctively Singaporean ones like the disgraceful act of using tissue packets to reserve a seat in food centres.

With a “no singing skills required” attachment to its cause, the Singapore version of the Complaints Choir Project has attracted over 60 participants so far.

Workshops for the Complaints Choir Project are already underway and will last until 25 January. Live performances will take place on 25 and 26 January at various locations such as People’s corner, the Esplanade Waterfront, the Arts House Chamber and Vivo City.