In recent years, a melodic voice within SMU has been drawing attention and sparking curiosity amongst the media, MNCs, and even the President of Singapore.

SMU Voix, pronounced “voo-ahh”, which is the French word for voice, is the school’s resident acapella group. The club with its wide repertoire performs anything from pop ballads to swing and jazz, and all with their voices as the only instrument. Curious about their recent spike in public appearances, SMU Snapshots met up with the club’s former vice president, Bryan Halim, to find out more.

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The joy of leading

Having grown with SMU Voix since the beginning of his time in SMU, Bryan couldn’t be happier with the club’s leaps in performance. He has taken on various roles; overseeing the technical aspects as music director in his first year, moving on to a more holistic role managing the club as vice president in his second year, and now taking a step back to advise and ensure that standards are maintained.

Before SMU Voix, Bryan had been in choir for almost a decade, competing locally at Singapore Youth Festivals and overseas at competitions held in Venice, Russia, Indonesia and Malaysia. The shift to a more performance- and choreography-heavy art-form was motivated by his love for entertainment and a desire for deeper audience engagement. He shares a recent discovery behind his love for acapella.

“It’s a very different feeling when you sing with friends using pure vocals alone, without any other instruments. When the different voices come together, it is truly magical.”

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Photo by Alexus Goh

A big contribution to SMU Voix’s rising popularity is Bryan’s passion for the club. He is dedicated to harnessing the talents of every member, for he believes that “although everyone is an individual voice, if one singer is off-pitch, the whole group becomes off-pitch. The group is only as good as the weakest singer, so everyone must support each other.”

Stepping outside of your comfort zone

His passion and dedication has paid off. Since joining SMU Voix three years ago, the club has seen a jump in returns from external gigs. Bryan attributes this to improved standards from the decision to shift resources from school performances to taking on more external clients.

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Photo by Alexus Goh

“When I was music director, I felt that we lacked external exposure. To improve, we needed to go beyond school rehearsals and practices to perform professionally. We had to challenge ourselves to become better by performing on bigger stages.”

The club has since been engaged by high profile organisations, which includes performing for the President of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Teo Chee Hean, and at events by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Audio-Technica.

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Photo by Alexus Goh

Rising to meet transformation

Throughout our conversation, Bryan constantly highlights the importance of keeping current in changing times.

SMU Voix has dived into marketing initiatives that allow the club to compete on the same ground as professional performance groups. Their Spotify productions and music videos on YouTube have drawn interest from people in the media, like Power98 DJ Jeremy Ratnam, who invited SMU Voix to appear on Power98.

As external demand grows, so do expectations. With encouragement from the Office of Student Life and their vocal coach, Wendy Choong, who also coaches local pop band The Sam Willows, the team replaced in-house choreography with an external choreographer, Gino Flordeliza Babagay.

“The choreographer oversees everything visual. By understanding the constraints of performing and singing at the same time, he improved our performance holistically to complement our singing. This set us apart from groups that focus only on singing.”

Looking ahead, Bryan hopes that by taking consistent steps in the right direction to improve standards and increase exposure, SMU Voix will venture even further out of SMU, and possibly Singapore.

Watch this music video produced by SMU Voix, which features various sporting CCAs in SMU!