30
August
2018
|
09:00
Europe/Amsterdam

Voyage marks 15 years of artistic excellence

Prof Qian Zhou (left) in a quartet with (from right) Assoc Prof Tony Makarome, Mr Du Rui (Violin, ’08) and Gabriel Hoe, a Year 4 Piano student at YST

The Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST) at NUS opened the 2018/19 academic year on a very special note. It celebrated its 15th anniversary and partnership with the Peabody Institute (Peabody) of the Johns Hopkins University in a gala concert on 21 August, which also kick-started Voyage, a week-long music festival that saw more than 70 YST graduates curating and presenting concerts and panel discussions.

The festivities began with Celebrating 15 Years, a gala concert performed by alumni, students and faculty of Peabody and YST. Gracing the event were key leadership figures in the founding of YST, Guest-of-Honour Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Singapore’s former Deputy Prime Minister and President and current Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (then Education Minister), as well as current Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung. Around 600 people attended the gala, which was also live-streamed on Facebook with 8,000 views.

It proved to be an evening of musical highlights, featuring conductor Mr Kahchun Wong (Composition, ’11); YST Head of Strings Professor Qian Zhou; YST Head of Piano Studies Professor Thomas Hecht; and the Red Dot Baroque founded by Mr Alan Choo (Violin, ’12); amongst others.

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One of the panel discussions featured speakers (from right) Ms Christel Hon, Mr Darius Lim, Mr Lawrence Holmefjord-Sarabi, Ms Rebecca Chew and Dr Sydney Tan examining Singapore’s creative landscape, moderated by Ms Stasha Wong (Recording Arts & Sciences, ’18) (left)

Commenting on the NUS-Peabody partnership, YST Dean Professor Bernard Lanskey shared, “Our collaboration has offered much-valued support and friendship, and energised important initiatives such as the Joint Degree and Student Exchange Programmes. We are also grateful for NUS and the Ministry of Education’s continual commitment in setting up YST as a beacon of music excellence for Singapore and the region.”

We wanted to make the classical concert more vivid and immersive, and break down barriers to connecting with music. Often, performers and the audience are separated on different levels, and the audience doesn’t laugh, talk or react. We sought to tear down these walls and experiment with new mediums and technological possibilities.

A similar boldness of vision showed in Voyage, a festival of seven concerts and two panel discussions that sought to redefine classical music conventions. From incorporating multidisciplinary elements and transforming spaces with striking multimedia visuals, to creating delightful musical surprises such as a jazz band featuring the Chinese erhu, Voyage took creative strides that were met with favourable response, with each concert seeing full attendance and a waitlist for entry.

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Musicians from the Open Score Project, a syncretic music ensemble co-founded by Ms Syafiqah 'Adha Sallehin (Composition, ’13), in performance

The festival was spearheaded by Ms Jade Tan Shi Yu (Voice, ’17) alongside co-director Mr Mervin Wong (Viola, ’18). Jade shared, “We wanted to make the classical concert more vivid and immersive, and break down barriers to connecting with music. Often, performers and the audience are separated on different levels, and the audience doesn’t laugh, talk or react. We sought to tear down these walls and experiment with new mediums and technological possibilities. For example, our concert The Bistro was held on YST’s ground level walkway, where we projected images on to the Conservatory’s white walls.”

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Serving as emcees for the gala concert were Ms Tan and Mr Mick Lim (Composition, Peabody-YST Joint Degree, double major in European Studies, ’18)

Planning the festival was not easy, with the organising team and performers spread across the globe, and everyone having different work and school schedules. However, the team was supported by enthusiastic alumni who willingly went the extra mile — some travelling back from abroad, and many performing in multiple shows. Mr Christopher Mui (Cello, ’17), who flew in from his native Australia, shared, “I am grateful for the wonderful music education I received during my four years at YST. Being in this festival was a way for me to thank the school and reconnect with my alma mater.”

It was truly a week rich in meaning that points to even more promising developments ahead. As Jade noted, reflecting on the festival as a whole, “We’re proud of what we have achieved so far — and we look forward to doing even better.”

By the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music

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