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Singapore Symphony Orchestra

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in Singapore. Its principal concert venue is the Esplanade Concert Hall. The orchestra also gives concerts at the Victoria Concert Hall, and overall performs about 100 concerts per year. The orchestra's current music director is Lan Shui, since 1997.

Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra
Founded 1979
Location Singapore
Concert hall Esplanade Concert Hall
Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall
Music director Lan Shui
Website www.sso.org.sg

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, home of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra since 1980

Several orchestras were formed in Singapore in the colonial period and after independence. One of these, also named the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, was formed in 1945 by the Scottish composer Erik Chisholm in his capacity as ENSA Music Director for South East Asia.[1] Some of its members were from the British army or air force bands, and though it was short-lived, it gave over fifty concerts and played with such soloists as the violinist Szymon Goldberg. Subsequently, until 1979, all orchestras in Singapore were composed largely of amateur musicians. Orchestras of the early periods included the orchestras of Singapore Musical Society, Singapore Chamber Ensemble, Singapore Youth Orchestra, as well as the short-lived Singapore National Orchestra formed by National Theatre Trust in the 1970s.[2]

In 1973, at the opening ceremony of the Japanese Garden in Jurong, the then-defence minister Dr. Goh Keng Swee described the absence of a professional symphony orchestra in Singapore as "a minor scandal".[3] An initial proposal to establish a national symphony orchestra was not accepted, as it did not plan for the inclusion of Singaporean musicians.[4] In 1977, a largely amateur Singapore Philharmonic Orchestra was formed under the leadership of Yoshinao Osawa. Its success spurred further interest in the idea of a national symphony orchestra.[2] After consulting with conductor Choo Hoey about the feasibility of setting up an orchestra that would include Singaporean musicians, Goh Keng Swee persuaded the Cabinet to support the establishment of a professional orchestra.[4] The orchestra would be supported by public funds, and was intended to serve as a flagship arts company for the enrichment of the local culture scene.[3]

 
Esplanade, main performance venue for SSO since 2003

In 1979, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) was instituted, and its first Resident Conductor was Choo Hoey. The orchestra had 41 members, 14 of whom were Singaporean, and it gave its first performance at the Singapore Conference Hall on 24 January 1979.[5][6][7] The Singapore Symphony Chorus was then formed in 1980. In 1980, the Victoria Memorial Hall became home to the orchestra.

Choo Hoey stepped down as Music Director in July 1996, and now holds the position of the SSO's Conductor Emeritus. Lan Shui became the orchestra's next music director in 1997. In 2003, the orchestra moved to its current performance venue, the Esplanade. The SSO expanded to its target of about 90 musicians by the early 1990s.[8] In January 2017, the SSO announced that Lan Shui would be standing down as music director in January 2019.[9]

Concerts and repertoireEdit

 
SSO Concert at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

The main performing venue for the orchestra is the Esplanade Concert Hall, but concerts are also held regularly at the Victoria Concert Hall. It also gives the occasional free performances, for example at the Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay.[10][11] It also performs in school and colleges, and has a Community Outreach programme to promote classical music to the wider community.[12][13] The orchestra has toured around the world, notable concerts include performances at the Berlin Philharmonie, New York's Avery Fisher Hall, Beijing's Poly Theatre, and The Proms in London.[14][15]

The repertoire of the orchestra includes Western classical music ranging from early baroque to contemporary classical music as well as Chinese works composed or arranged for a Western orchestra. This is reflected in the program for its inaugural concert that includes Rossini's Overture, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (soloist Ong Lip Tat),[16] Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question, and the Chinese orchestral piece Dance of the Yao People.[17]

RecordingsEdit

The SSO has made many recordings with BIS Records and other labels. These include the first recording of the complete cycle of Alexander Tcherepnin's six piano concertos and four symphonies on BIS.[18] Other releases include recordings of works by Rachmaninov released in 2012 and 2013 with Yevgeny Sudbin,[19][20] and the 2007 recordings of Claude Debussy's La Mer.[21]

Music directorsEdit

  • Choo Hoey (1979-1996)
  • Lan Shui (1997-present)

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Erik Chisholm (1971). The operas of Leos Janacek: The Commonwealth and International Library: Music Division. Pergamon. p. xxiii. ISBN 978-1483117430. 
  2. ^ a b Emrys Chew; Chong Guan Kwa, eds. (2012). Goh Keng Swee: A Legacy of Public Service. WSPC. pp. 281–285. ISBN 978-9814390750. 
  3. ^ a b Patricia Shehan Campbell; Trevor Wiggins, eds. (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Children's Musical Cultures, Volume 2. Oxford University Press. p. 344. ISBN 978-0199737635. 
  4. ^ a b "Happy Birthday, SSO". The Straits Times. 20 January 1980. 
  5. ^ Elena Chong; Wai Chee Leong (24 January 1979). "Symphony orchestra's debut night—sell-out for all concerts". The Straits Times. 
  6. ^ "Noted pianist Ong Lip Tat dies at 57". AsianOne. March 3, 2013. 
  7. ^ Jan Yap. "Singapore Symphony Orchestra". Singapore Infomedia. National Library Board Singapore. 
  8. ^ Bernard Tan Tiong Gie (2011). Barry Desker, ed. Goh Keng Swee: A Public Career Remembered. World Scientific Publishing/S Rajaratnam School Of International Studies. pp. 138–139. ISBN 978-9814291385. 
  9. ^ "Lan Shui to step down as SSO's Music Director" (Press release). Singapore Symphony Orchestra. 2017-01-11. Retrieved 2017-01-12. 
  10. ^ "Singapore Symphony Orchestra: Performances at Singapore Botanic Gardens". Singapore VR. 
  11. ^ "More than 6,000 visitors enjoy SSO concert at Singapore Botanic Gardens". The Straits Times. 11 August 2014. 
  12. ^ John de Souza (1 June 1984). "Our arts sponsors". The Straits Times. 
  13. ^ "Community Outreach 2014 / 15" (PDF). Singapore Symphony Orchestra. 
  14. ^ Bernard Holland (4 March 2005). "Orchestra in Development, Two Soloists in Their Prime". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ Tim Ashley (3 September 2014). "Prom 61: Singapore Symphony Orchestra/Shui – a tour de force for Haefliger". The Guardian. 
  16. ^ "Noted pianist Ong Lip Tat dies at 57". AsianOne. March 3, 2013. 
  17. ^ Jan Yap. "Singapore Symphony Orchestra". Singapore Infomedia. National Library Board Singapore. 
  18. ^ Andrew Clements (2003-10-24). "Tcherepnin Piano Concertos: Ogawa/Singapore Symphony/Shui". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  19. ^ Geoffrey Norris (5 April 2012). "Rachmaninov: Symphony No 3; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, CD review". The Daily Telegraph. 
  20. ^ Geoffrey Norris (4 July 2013). "Rachmaninov: Symphony No 1; Piano Concerto No 1, review". The Daily Telegraph. 
  21. ^ Stephanie Yap (January 22, 2009). "Classic Act" (PDF). The Straits Times. 

External linksEdit