Meet the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra

The Singapore Youth Chinese Orchestra will perform under its new name, the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra, in March at the Esplanade.
The Singapore Youth Chinese Orchestra will perform under its new name, the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra, in March at the Esplanade.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CHINESE ORCHESTRA

The Singapore Youth Chinese Orchestra - the youth wing of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) - is now known as the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra (SNYCO).

Its music director Quek Ling Kiong, who is also SCO's resident conductor, says the name change represents renewed efforts to promote the status of the youth orchestra to a national one as well as interest in Chinese music among the young.

SNYCO has 85 members, most of them students and young working adults between 11 and 26 years old.

Quek, 49, was the orchestra's conductor from 2003, when it came under the SCO's charge, until his promotion to music director a year ago, replacing Yeh Tsung.

He says the efforts include more local and overseas performances, short training stints at prestigious music schools in China as well as master classes conducted by visiting musicians.

SCO's assistant conductor Moses Gay is the SNYCO's new conductor.

The youth orchestra's first public performance under its new name will be held at the Esplanade Concert Hall on March 18, when it plays alongside the SCO in their annual combined concert, Dauntless Spirit.

It will then perform in Beijing and Shanghai for the first time, from June 15 to 20. The orchestra's last overseas performance was at the Hsinchu Chinese Music Festival in Taiwan in 2013.

"Besides performances abroad, SNYCO members will get more international exposure through the Overseas Music Immersion Programme and overseas music camps," says Quek.

Last year, for example, the orchestra's percussionist Lim Rei was selected to attend short courses at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Quek says SNYCO's new vision is to establish itself as the leading youth Chinese orchestra in Singapore and internationally, recognised for its artistic excellence and rich Singapore heritage.

"Our mission is to inspire, nurture and develop our youth into exemplary music advocates to serve the community," he adds.

The orchestra will launch a brochure to highlight its programmes, which include community concerts.

SCO executive director Terence Ho says the youth orchestra has been a breeding ground for Chinese music supporters as well as future professional musicians for the SCO and other orchestras.

Since 2003, three of its members have joined the SCO. They are suona associate principal Chang Le, zhongruan associate principal Lo Chai Xia and zhongruan player Koh Min Hui.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2017, with the headline 'Meet the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra'. Print Edition | Subscribe