HOW SINGAPORE GOT HERE

Group 'created something uniquely S'pore'

Formed in 2009, The Teng Ensemble is the performing arm of Chinese instrumental music events and education firm The Teng Company, whose artistic director is Dr Samuel Wong (far left) and executive director is Mr Yang Ji Wei.
Formed in 2009, The Teng Ensemble is the performing arm of Chinese instrumental music events and education firm The Teng Company, whose artistic director is Dr Samuel Wong (far left) and executive director is Mr Yang Ji Wei.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The late Zubir Said composed Singapore's National Anthem, Majulah Singapura. But less known to the people is his Semoga Bahagia, which celebrates Children's Day.

It is such songs, slowly being forgotten, which inspired the establishment of The Teng Ensemble in 2009.

"We wanted to promote a type of Singaporean sound that we felt was lacking here," said the group's sheng player, Mr Yang Ji Wei.

The group was mentioned by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his Mandarin speech during the National Day Rally yesterday, as one which "injects new elements into traditional culture and created something uniquely Singapore".

Besides delving into Singapore's heritage for inspiration, the ensemble also marries the sounds of Eastern and Western instruments.

It is the performing arm of Chinese instrumental music events and education firm The Teng Company. But the performers do not see themselves as "Chinese musicians".

"When we were growing up, we were influenced by many genres," said Mr Yang, 34, adding that the ensemble comprises alumni of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).

Catch the six-member ensemble on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/thetengcompany

Walter Sim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline 'Group 'created something uniquely S'pore''. Print Edition | Subscribe