Usher in the new year with S'pore conductor Wong Kah Chun and the Bamberg Symphony

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SINGAPORE - On New Year's Eve, Singaporean conductor Wong Kah Chun took the stage with the Bamberg Symphony in Germany to lead it in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

The concert Ode To Joy - A Musical Gift From Germany was live-streamed on The Straits Times' (ST) social media channels.

The 35-year-old, known internationally as Kahchun Wong, returned to Germany from Tokyo to prepare for the concert with the orchestra immediately after Christmas.

The orchestra hosted the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition that he won in 2016, propelling him to renown.

He thinks of the orchestra as his benefactor. "I am looking forward to spending a truly fulfilling musical week together with them."


Wong, an up-and-coming star in the Western classical music world, became the first Asian chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra in 2018.

In December 2019, he became the first Singaporean conductor to be conferred the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

He began his appointment in September this year for an initial two-year period, as the new principal guest conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said in a statement that Wong truly embodies "the concept of #SGCultureAnywhere".

"I look forward to the performance as Kahchun leads the Bamberg Symphony in a joyful celebration all the way from Germany. With the vaccinated travel lane between Singapore and Germany, we look forward to more opportunities for artist exchanges in the year ahead," added Mr Tong, who is also Second Minister for Law.


The Bamberg Symphony is the state orchestra of the Federal State of Bavaria in Germany.


In its 75-year history, it has been to Singapore only once.

Its president and chief executive Marcus Rudolf Axt says: "We are proud to be returning to this inspiring city state for the first time since 1986 - even if only virtually in these difficult times."

In 2018, Wong and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Singapore conceived an open-air concert series, Beethoven im Garten.

Physical concerts in 2018 and 2019 attracted more than 13,000 audience members.

Last year, the initiative went online due to Covid-19. Supported by ST, Wong created the first-ever recording of the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in an artificial three-dimensional environment to symbolise global solidarity.

The organisers hope to bring the concert series back to the Botanic Gardens next year.

Dr Norbert Riedel, German Ambassador to Singapore, describes Wong as "a great bridge-builder to deliver this special musical gift from Germany to Singaporeans".

This year's concert is an initiative by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, in partnership with the Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise in Singapore and the Bamberg Symphony, with The Straits Times as media partner.

View it/Ode To Joy - A Musical Gift From Germany

Where: The Straits Times' YouTube and Facebook channels
When: Dec 31, 10pm SGT
Admission: Free

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