Music bridges the gap for blind players

Participants practice ahead of the SNYCO concert.
Stephanie Ow and Zhang Jing Qi rehearsing ahead of the concert.
Stephanie Ow and Zhang Jing Qi rehearsing ahead of the concert. PHOTO: MCCY
Members from SNYCO performing at the China Conservatory of Music Affiliated High School on Thursday (June 15) evening.
Members from SNYCO performing at the China Conservatory of Music Affiliated High School on Thursday (June 15) evening.PHOTO: MCCY
Zhang Jing Qi and Stephanie Ow performing at the China Conservatory of Music Affiliated High School on Thursday.
Zhang Jing Qi and Stephanie Ow performing at the China Conservatory of Music Affiliated High School on Thursday.PHOTO: MCCY

BEIJING • Performing on stage in a foreign country is demanding enough - perhaps more so when one is blind and is meeting her co-performer only hours before taking the stage.

Erhu player Stephanie Ow, 21, a Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts student, took the limelight at the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra's (SNYCO's) performance in Beijing yesterday when she played a double erhu concerto with Chinese performer Zhang Jing Qi, 14, who is also blind.

Ms Ow and Jing Qi, who had five hours to rehearse, used loud breathing as their cues for key moments.

Ms Ow said: "It's quite thrilling. When we first started rehearsing, we were very wonky but after a few tries, we managed to catch each other's rhythm."

SNYCO's 85 performers are on their first concert tour in mainland China, performing their first concert at the China Conservatory of Music Affiliated High School last night. The invitation-only concert drew about 500 attendees, including students, music professors and representatives from various Chinese orchestras.

Also in attendance was Singapore Minister for Community, Culture and Youth Grace Fu, who is in China till today to discuss cultural collaboration between the two countries, and vice-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress Zhao Shaohua.


Minister Fu speaking to Zhang Jing Qi and Stephanie Ow. PHOTO: MCCY

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2017, with the headline 'Music bridges the gap for blind players'. Print Edition | Subscribe