NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music raises over S$1.3m to empower students, advance musical excellence and engage the community

Proceeds from the YST 20th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign will support undergraduate bursaries as well as initiatives promoting musical excellence and health and well-being

The National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST) has raised over S$1.3m through its 20th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign, with proceeds to be channelled towards initiatives that will enhance student support and expand its influence as Asia’s leading conservatory.

The news was announced at the YST 20th Anniversary Fundraising Gala Dinner held last night (22 Sep) at Fullerton Bay Hotel with close to 300 donors, friends and guests of YST in attendance. Attendees included Guest-of-Honour Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees; Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President; Ms Chong Siak Ching, Chair of the YST Governing Board, and Professor Peter Tornquist, Dean of YST.

The Gala Dinner itself was an ample display of the Conservatory’s rich musical talent. It included performances by newly-joined Associate Professor in Piano Ning An and the YST Orchestral Institute conducted by Dr Lien Boon Hua (’11), Ensemble-in-Residence Lorong Boys, singers Kira Lim (’25) and Win Wasin Pornphongsa (’16), and string quartet Bards of Neverland.

Addressing guests at the dinner, Ms Chong said, “Over the past 20 years, YST has grown not only as a school but also as an artistic hub, community connector, and the international face of Singapore’s higher music education. We are deeply grateful to our benefactors who have supported us through the years, and to all who have contributed towards our anniversary fundraising campaign, which will boost our efforts to impact even more lives through music.”

The funds will go towards bursaries for YST undergraduate students, support research and community outreach efforts by YST’s Centre for Music and Health (CMH), expand the triennial Singapore International Violin Competition, and support the Conservatory in its wider artistic, educational and community-facing offerings.

Professor Tornquist said: “These initiatives are part of our larger mission to reimagine what a 21st-century conservatory can contribute to the world. Tonight’s performances are just some examples of the Conservatory’s rich talent and thrilling creativity. As we move boldly forward, we will continue to create musical resonances, nurture artistic excellence, engage the community, spearhead innovation, and continually rise to the challenge of educating the musical leaders of tomorrow.”

Apart from a night of wonderful entertainment, the Gala Dinner was an opportunity for alumni to reconnect and recall fond memories of their time at YST.

Syafiqah ‘Adha obtained her Bachelors in Music (With Honours) in Composition in 2013 and went on to pursue a Masters in Music Composition, said, “Stepping into YST as an undergraduate was a dream come true for me. It was a big step towards realising my ambition to pursue music composition as a career. I remember my student days fondly - especially the opportunities we got as students to showcase our works. My best wishes to YST for many more exciting years ahead!” she said.

Another alumnus, Rachel Ho who obtained her Bachelors in Music in 2016 and is now an academic staff at YST said the Conservatory has played a huge role in her formative music years as a music student, providing opportunities to discover and develop herself to her fullest potential and build connections. “I am currently very grateful to be able to contribute now as an academic staff at YST, and I hope to continue working alongside my colleagues to move YST from being “excellent to exceptional” in the years to come. Being at the gala dinner tonight reminded me about how the past is as important as the future - may we continue to learn from the past and prepare ourselves for the future of music,” the flautist said.

The Gala Dinner was part of YST’s string of anniversary celebration events, which included the launch of the CMH, a Gala Concert in April, as well as the Conservatory’s ongoing concert season.

The celebrations will conclude in October with the premiere of the Southeast Asian Golden Age Symphony, a brand-new commission featuring seven young composers from across Southeast Asia representing the region’s cultural vibrancy and bright musical voices. 

To mark its 20 years, YST also launched its alumni association which will connect its body of over 800 graduates, and will establish a memorial bursary in honour of Conservatory faculty, staff and students who have passed on.

Harpist Charity Kiew, who graduated with a Bachelors in Music from YST in 2016 and now serves as the Alumni Association President fondly recalls how YST had given her the opportunity to pursue her passion in music. She said, “It was exciting to finally dedicate my life to music full-time! I had some nerves thinking how I would fit in at YST and the bigger NUS community, but they soon faded away and I had some of the best years as an undergraduate. It feels so nice to be with my friends and YST faculty tonight and see how far we have come since our days in school together.”

Today, YST brings together a world-class faculty and facility to nurture students in performance, composition, production and engagement. Through its undergraduate, graduate, continuing education and youth offerings, we connect dynamically with the surrounding musical ecosystem. YST hosts a vibrant performance calendar with around 200 concerts annually, featuring students and faculty alongside international artists. 

Its community engagement programme has extensive local and global reach. Students are supported to find their own artistic pathways through exchanges, festivals, competitions and projects. More broadly, YST’s international networks further enhance the educational experience and ensure the Conservatory’s continued evolution.

Read the full press release here.