Bonding with music

Students from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM) at NUS gave a resounding performance together with a Myanmar orchestra and traditional Myanmar ensemble in two concerts at Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon. Held on 22 and 24 August respectively, the concerts organised by the Singapore Embassy in Yangon, marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Myanmar.

The concert repertoire was selected to represent several genres, from Western classical music to traditional Myanmar songs, as well as pieces specially composed by Assistant Professor Chen Zhangyi from YSTCM and Burmese cellist Mr Saw James Hsar Doe Soe. Mr Saw is the first Burmese alumnus to graduate from the Conservatory.

“The project was such a great experience because I not only took on the role of a musician, but also became an ambassador of the music between our two countries,” said Mr Saw, a co-conductor, who was very pleased with the outcome.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Foreign Minister, and Burmese dignitaries as well as Mr Robert Chua, Singapore’s Ambassador to Myanmar, attended the concert in Nay Pyi Taw. The concert in Yangon was broadcast live on national television.

Asst Prof Chen, co-conductor of the concerts, said, “It was a rare opportunity for us to perform for Ms Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw. At the end of the concert, she even came up to the stage to speak to the musicians. We also really enjoyed the response of the audience at Yangon.”

sg myanmar concerts 2

Ms Suu Kyi (in green) speaking to the musicians after the concert, with Mr Saw (far left) and Assoc Prof Chen (2nd from right) looking on

Summing up the joint performance, Year 2 YSTCM student Gabriel Hoe remarked, “It was truly one unique sound. The combination of a traditional saing waing ensemble and a Western orchestra was indeed refreshing. What more can you ask for, when you get to perform in such a show while making music with newfound friends from Myanmar?”

By Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music