EVOKX – Every Year A New Cause

A non-profit community choir that engages youths in social/charitable causes through its outreach and annual concert series, Evocation: The Art of Giving.

EVOKX was founded in 2010 by Singaporean conductor and music educator Terrence Toh. The choir’s name is a portmanteau of the word ‘evoke’ and latin word ‘vox’, which embodies the group’s fundamental mission; the evocation of the human spirit through the choral arts. At the heart of EVOKX, singers share a passion to inspire resonance with our collective voices; the commitment to instill charity, compassion and empathy in our audience and in ourselves, through the transformative power of choral music.

Choir Madness: something you do with your choir that others might find bizarre or strange!

We intentionally sing “Happy Birthday” out of tune when celebrating members’ birthdays. Only a choir knows how to truly sing “Happy Birthday” badly. 


Choir Name:  EVOKX
Location:  Singapore
Style:  Classical to Contemporary
Number of singers: 55
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Our conductor once said, “never lose the ability to reflect and ground yourself – even if it’s a delayed response, and especially if it requires you to relinquish your pride.” These words reflect the core attitude of self-reflection and humility that EVOKX’s singers embrace in seeking to better themselves, both as musicians and as people. 

— Evokx Choir Member

A favorite piece of repertoire & why 

We’ve narrowed it down to two:

The Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre is a beautiful piece of music that all our members loved performing. In a sea of uncertainty, a mother seal coaxes her little one with the comforting words. With its gentle and almost-tranquillising melody, the song is sealed with the assurance of undisturbed rest “in the arms of the slow-swinging seas”, a message that is simple, yet profoundly comforting. The slightly pop undertones in the music make it instantly relatable to all, regardless of familiarity with traditional choral music, extending its appeal to a wide demographic. 

Entreat Me Not To Leave You by Dan Forrest. With lyrics adapted from the biblical book of Ruth, this piece somehow has the ability to touch our soul as we journey with Ruth through her desperate cries and suffering, but ultimately finding peace.

What was a very special performance and what made it special?

At our recent concert, we had the privilege of sharing the stage with a group of autistic students. In our rehearsal and interaction with the students, we were touched deeply by their pure hearts and love for choral singing. Music does indeed bring people together, and leads us to believe that we are more similar than we are different. 

An emotional moment you had in a performance? 

When we performed The Shower by Edward Elgar as part of our competition repertoire in the Open Mixed category of the 5th Singapore International Choral Festival (SICF), our conductor visibly teared up on stage mid-way through the piece. Seeing him cry, a good number of singers choked up too, and the whole choir had to take a brief moment to compose ourselves before performing the next piece in the competition programme. 

— Evokx Choir Member

What was one lesson you learned from being in a competition?

The importance of every member aiming to make good music with the same mindset – that it is not the result that matters the most, but rather, the process of working towards it.

See us perform “Abendlied, Op. 69, No. 3” by Josef Rheinberger at the Singapore International Choral Festival in 2018 here on Youtube!

Does your choir have a favorite composer?

Our favorite composer would have to be our assistant conductor, Mr Keane Ong – a graduate student majoring in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy, who recently obtained his Masters in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, studying with American baritone William Sharp, and was awarded the George Castelle Memorial Award for Voice.  Graduating from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music with a Bachelors of Voice Performance where he studied under Lyric Tenor, Alan Bennett, Keane is an inspiration to many of our singers and a shining example of how Singapore’s home-grown talent can make waves in the international music scene. One of our favourite compositions from his repertoire is Dayung Sampan, which EVOKX performed in the Open Mixed category of the 5th Singapore International Choral Festival (SICF) in July 2018 and was awarded Gold.

What is something you do in rehearsals that surprises new members? 

We laugh and joke a lot during rehearsals; even though we are dead serious about the quality of our music, the atmosphere during rehearsals is very light-hearted and candid. One thing that surprises new members is how our conductor cracks jokes right along with us (in fact, he’s often the biggest prankster!) all in good-natured fun. Humor is an essential companion on the journey of constant growth and musical development as a choir. 

What is your audition process?

We welcome all singers, regardless of choral background (or lack thereof). Our audition comprises a series of aural tests and a short interview (to ensure that potential singers understand that joining EVOKX is a commitment to diligently attend weekly practices every Saturday afternoon). 

How does your choir typically bond as a group? 

Quite a few of our singers are also proficient in orchestral instruments, and we often attend concerts together outside practices. In the practice room, we learn the music together – helping one another along, sharing our individual interpretations and applicable techniques for different parts of the songs, to express the sense of musicality from each individual in shaping the collective sound of EVOKX. By interacting with one another and fully understanding each others’ interpretations of the pieces, we are able to bond under a common understanding of the music we present. Our members also love a good laugh, and bond over light-hearted banter – usually accompanied by good food. 

A special thanks to the choristers that contributed to this article!

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