The Toa Payoh Guitar Club (TPGC) was formed in March 1974 under the Young People’s Service section of the Toa Payoh Branch library by a group of talented youths under the guidance of the library officer-in-charge, Ms Anuar, Hedwig Elizabeth. It was then known as Toa Payoh Branch Library Music Club.
The main activity in our first days were mostly strumming and singing with the guitar, and we even appeared on the television on a few occasions. The music played was diverse, ranging from the piano to the guitar as most members were proficient in at least a musical instrument. However, the Club was disbanded in late 1975 following conflicts among the members.
In early 1976, the Club was reformed under a new name, Toa Payoh Branch Library Guitar Ensemble with just 18 members. The Club began to reach out to a wider audience when we organized our first public concert in August 1977. The concert, with “Guitar Voices” as its theme, encouraged many to join the Club.
The ‘SHARE’ concert was introduced in 1978. The concept was to share guitar interests with not only among members, but to the public as well on a regular basis. Since then, the ‘SHARE’ concert has become an important annual event for our Club.
In 1979, the Club was renamed to the Toa Payoh Branch Library Music Club to facilitate the inclusion of other musical instruments besides the guitars. However, it turned out to be unsuccessful.
In 1983, the club changed its name to the Toa Payoh Branch Library Guitar Club to focus on guitar music.
The Club began to pursue Guitar Ensemble playing in earnest and the ensembles and some members took the top spots in the 10th and 11th Yamaha Guitar competition in 1983 and 1984 in the Ensemble, Classical ‘Solo’ and Non-Classical ‘Solo’ sections.
Following these competitions, the Club received many invitations to perform, and members participated in events such as: SIA’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations, People’s Association Cultural Show, 100 Guitars of Singapore and the Singapore Festival of Arts, to name a few.
In March 1986, the Club left the Toa Payoh Branch Library as the promotion of music and culture passed on to other government agencies. The Club began a new chapter as an independent organization renamed ‘Toa Payoh Guitar Club’. The Club adopted a Constitution, formalized categories of memberships, and elected a management committee. In September 1987, TPGC formally registered with the Registry of Societies.
The 1990s – 2000s
The Club continued to expand its ensemble repertoire, and the types of music played include Classical, Latin American, and Popular Favorites. Many of the ensemble pieces were transcribed by members, who lead the ensemble as conductors. The annual SHARE concert was presented once or even twice each year.
The Club also took the lead to reach out to other guitar organizations in Singapore from the universities, polytechnics, junior colleges and secondary schools. Appearances at each other’s performance events increased, and this active level of engagements prompted the Club to organize the first ever ‘Singapore Guitarists Network’ (SGN) event in October 2003 at the library@Esplanade and another SGN in November 2005, where many guitar organizations and guitar personalities came together and played.
TPGC promotes sharing of interests in the guitar and its music, and the main avenue is via the guitar ensemble. Members help each other with sharing of tips and techniques to play the individual parts, and group together to work out the various sections of the pieces; and combine as one to play as an ensemble. From these interactions anchored on the group ensemble, many interests and performing groups sprouted as members explored various music genres together.
With this diversity, TPGC continues to present the SHARE concerts, and organizes many guitar-related activities for members that include the Music Camp, In-House Guitar Competition, Entertainment Time (our mini informal concerts), Workshops and joint-performances with other guitar groups. Often we would receive invitations to perform at various music or cultural events.
Besides playing the guitar, members also organize social activities to enhance members’ interactions. From new members’ Orientation, ‘Rest & Relax’ outings and get-togethers, to our Annual Camp, there are many opportunities for members to bond as a cohesive music organization.