Guitar prodigy Kevin Loh to perform with pianist Abigail Sin and violinist Loh Jun Hong

Guitarist Kevin Loh (above) will perform with violinist Loh Jun Hong and pianist Abigail Sin in Songs Of Travel on Sept 2.
Guitarist Kevin Loh (above) will perform with violinist Loh Jun Hong and pianist Abigail Sin in Songs Of Travel on Sept 2. PHOTO: FEDERICO SHEPPARD

Yehudi Menuhin School student Kevin Loh, who received accolades in the US and Europe, will perform two concerts here

Britain-based Singaporean classical guitarist Kevin Loh, who recently won two international competitions in a hectic schedule, is back here to perform at two concerts.

The 18-year-old will be playing with violinist Loh Jun Hong and pianist Abigail Sin at the concert, Songs Of Travel, on Sept 2 at the Esplanade Recital Studio. It is part of the More Than Music series, which aims to demystify classical music and break down barriers between musicians and audiences.

On Sept 25, he will perform with the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra as part of its biannual Singapore's Gifted Young Musicians In Concert series.

Loh says he shares great rapport with Loh Jun Hong and Sin. They have shared the stage several times, including at a previous concert for More Than Music in 2014.

Though Songs Of Travel is named after a classical piece by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, the title aptly describes the way the three have been collaborating - Skype sessions among the three have occurred with the guitarist in the United States while he was there for a competition, the pianist in the United Kingdom and the violinist in Singapore.

For the concert with Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra, Sin, an alumnus of the orchestra, will be playing as well.

  • BOOK IT / SONGS OF TRAVEL BY MORE THAN MUSIC 

    WHERE: Esplanade Recital Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Sept 2, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $30 (Go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555) 

    INFO: www.facebook.com/MoreThanMusicConcerts

    SINGAPORE'S GIFTED YOUNG MUSICIANS IN CONCERT

    WHERE: School of the Arts Concert Hall, 1 Zubir Said Drive

    WHEN: Sept 25, 5pm

    INFO: Tickets are not on sale yet. For updates, go to www.facebook.com/ILoveBHSO

Loh will premiere the guitar classic Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo, which he describes as "arguably the biggest concerto for classical guitar and the most well-known one".

"It's a really huge work and to be able to do it in Singapore - I don't think anyone else has done it before - I'm really looking forward to it," he says.

The two Singapore concerts are part of what has been a packed year for him.

He has been attending the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School in the UK since 2010, after the school talent-spotted him on his YouTube account at the age of 12.

Between May and last month, he bagged the first prize in the senior division category of the Guitar Foundation of America and placed first in his age category at the Andres Segovia International Competition for Young Guitarists in Germany.

He also received a Young Artist Award from the International Guitar Foundation, which earned him a tour in the UK from last month to October this year.

Just before coming home, he flew to Spain for two weeks to attend a workshop and hold four solo recitals at several churches there.

"This year has been huge. It's been the biggest year yet," he says in an interview with The Straits Times.

In the midst of it all, he also sat for his examinations in school and performed at its end-of-year concerts. His school term ended last month.

He speaks excitedly about his experience in the Yehudi Menuhin School, which has about 80 pupils aged eight to 19. He is one of six students who are learning the guitar.

"I've realised how much more there is to the musical world - it's not just about the music and music theory, but about the language, culture and history that inspired the writing of the music. What better way to do this than in an international school?" says Loh, who flies back three times a year, during the breaks between his three school terms a year.

Loh's parents - his father works in the IT industry and his mother is a housewife - are paying for a portion of his school fees, which are partially funded by HSBC, which awarded him with its Youth Excellence Award in 2010, as well as grants from the British government.

For the first two years of school, he was granted a scholarship from the rock band The Rolling Stones. The bursary is given to all new guitar students at the school.

Loh says he feels "a bit sad" to be graduating next year after completing his A levels, after which he will return home to enlist in national service.

He still feels rooted to Singapore, saying he would like to "be able to develop guitar" here at a high level, adding that he has his eyes set on a few universities in the US and conservatories in Europe.

But he maintains that he is very much a teenager.

"I watch a lot of anime in my spare time. I listen to a lot of Japanese rock. I game from time to time. I'm still a kid at heart."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2016, with the headline 'Winning teen guitarist back for gigs'. Print Edition | Subscribe