SINGAPORE: A new recording of the national anthem was played for the first time in public on the steps of the National Gallery, 60 years from the date of its unveiling.
The re-recording of Majulah Singapura is an update of the previous official recording, with better sound quality to reflect the improvements in audio technology since 2000.
The higher quality will allow Singaporeans to hear the nuances of the music arrangement, especially in larger venues with modern sound systems, said the National Heritage Board (NHB).
NHB chief executive Chang Hwee Nee said Singapore's national symbols were unveiled on the City Hall steps on Dec 3, 1959, the same day its first head of state, Mr Yusof Ishak, was sworn in at the building.
The anthem was played for the first time then after the unfurling of the state flag. marking Singapore's transition to a self-governing state.
“When the symbols were introduced 60 years ago, they marked a new beginning for the people of Singapore, a coming together of different races, different religions, under one flag and one destiny,” she said.
The new recording was played to a crowd of about 40 people, including members of the SAF Veterans’ League, Team Singapore athletes, National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) youth inspectors, youth leaders of the Youth Corps and Yuhua Secondary School students.
Recorded by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra on Aug 7 at the Esplanade Concert Hall, it retains the arrangement by composer Phoon Yew Tien from 2001 but has included more young voices.
The 2019 version is also slightly faster - about five seconds shorter than the earlier recording.
CPT (RET) Hong Seng Mak, 85, who is part of the SAF Veterans’ League, said that he felt "very proud” to hear the national anthem, especially after having to sing the British anthem before.
NPCC cadet Winnie Chung found the anthem rousing and said that it made people "want to do their part for Singapore".
Both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat posted on Facebook about the re-recording.
Said Mr Lee: “I look forward to hearing it played at many more NDPs and international sport competitions in the future!”
Majulah Singapura, which means "onward Singapore", was composed in 1958 by the late local composer Zubir Said as an official song for the city council of Singapore.
When Singapore attained self-governance in 1959, then deputy prime minister Toh Chin Chye expressed interest in the song as it was written in the region’s indigenous language and would appeal to all races.
It was later adapted and formally introduced as Singapore’s national anthem on Dec 3 that year, along with the national flag and the state crest.
Members of the public can download the re-recorded National Anthem from go.gov.sg/national-anthem.