Cantonese opera singer spreads joy to seniors through performance

Mdm Hen Yin Cheng in full makeup and costume before her performance, is one of the seniors who truly exemplifies ageless living!

At 71, Mdm Hen Yin Cheng, a volunteer at our Active Ageing Hub (AAH) at Kampung Admiralty, continues to pursue her passion for Cantonese opera, performing for seniors and bringing joy to them through this beautiful art form.

Since she was a child, Mdm Hen was always interested in singing and in the last 20 years, she has been practising Cantonese opera as a hobby. She is currently part of a troupe based in Eunos Community Club which gathers for weekly practice.

The troupe performs at a variety of places, such as at retirement homes, community centres and even at public venues such as the National Library. Mdm Hen feels fortunate to have the opportunity to perform on stage for others, and feels very fulfilled that her talent is able to bring joy to others. “I want to be able to share my passion for singing and music with others. For some seniors, they may not have seen a live performance of Cantonese opera in a long while, and I am always glad to see them having a good time. Each time we have a performance, we will charter a bus to invite seniors from retirement homes to come.”

Her audiences greatly enjoy her performances, giving her huge applause especially when she has to perform difficult movements like bending her body. “Maybe they were worried I won’t be flexible enough to bend, or that I may fall!” Mdm Hen joked. With movements like these, she has to keep practising at home so that she would not become breathless or have difficulty performing on stage. Besides her vocals, Mdm Hen trains her body and stamina through exercises like walking.

Check out a clip of Mdm Hen (far left) with her students, performing a Cantonese song at our newly opened Active Ageing Hub (Bukit Batok West) a few months ago to welcome visitors!

After becoming a volunteer at our AAH at Kampung Admiralty about three years ago, Mdm Hen continued to spread her love for Cantonese opera to her new friends. Along with three other volunteers, she teaches a class of about 20 seniors ranging from their 60s to 80s to sing. Initially there was some difficulty as the seniors came from different dialect groups, and found it challenging to pronounce the words. Mdm Hen patiently translated the lyrics and guided them on the pronunciation. Her determination paid off. “As they slowly listened and discover the appeal of the songs, they became more interested in learning.” She feels great satisfaction from spreading the joy and love for Cantonese Opera, and proudly shared that her students sang for seniors at our Day Centre for Seniors (Marsiling) as well as the newly opened Active Ageing Hub (Bukit Batok West).

Besides performing Cantonese opera, Mdm Hen (pictured in the first image in dark yellow, and the second image in black polo tee) is an avid participant in the various activities at our AAH, such as cooking and interacting with pre-schoolers through inter-generational activities. She also encouraged her husband, Mr Poo Chee Chiang, to become a volunteer. “We are here five days a week,” says Mdm Hen. “It is like a second home!”

Mdm Hen also entertains the seniors at our Day Centre for Seniors (Kampung Admiralty) with Cantonese songs. Her efforts even won her a fan who eagerly awaits her visits and sings duets with her. “Each time I visit, the staff will tease me and say that she (the fan) has been waiting a long time for me!”

When asked what fuels her passion, she shared,

I’ve always wanted to bring joy to the elderly with my talent. As long as they are happy, I feel very fulfilled and satisfied.