My Perfect Weekend with classical saxophonist Samuel Phua

Saxophonist Samuel Phua practices yoga and pilates with freelance instructor Amanda Koh in her home studio on weekends. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMUEL PHUA

Who: Classical saxophonist Samuel Phua has achieved quite a lot for a musician who is only 25. So do not begrudge him the time he spends on yoga and pilates.

Apart from performing solos in concerts with the likes of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, he has also founded a saxophone quartet and won international awards. He is an educator as well, and was the saxophone instructor at the International School of Music Finland in Helsinki, where he also graduated from the University of the Arts’ Sibelius Academy, on a National Arts Council Undergraduate Scholarship in 2021.

While music is central to his life, it does not have to be classical. During his time at the School of the Arts, Singapore, he studied jazz in addition to classical music. His interests in the arts also go beyond music.

“This weekend, I will be attending the Singapore Ballet’s One @ the Ballet. It is a monthly dance presentation held at the Singapore Ballet Founder’s Studio. I’ve attended a few of these presentations, and being able to watch my friends in the company perform is a bonus.

Last weekend, I went to Concrete Relief, a multidisciplinary concert of music, poetry and film at the Esplanade Recital Studio. I also love local musicals such as Don’t Call Him Mr Mari Kita.

It is a little bit of a bad habit, but I like to listen to music that I will be performing when I am relaxing on weekends. The music of Chinese-American composer Tan Dun and American composer John Williams is what I am listening to at the moment.

I like looking for new music on YouTube Autoplay and Spotify too. One such piece I have found is Joel Love’s saxophone concerto.

Saxophonist Samuel Phua has performed with the likes of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and won international awards. PHOTO: SOUND AND ART THAILAND

As a classical musician, I study the works of Western classical composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Berlioz. But, right now, I am applying that knowledge to living composers and collaborating with them to create new works. For example, I will be performing the works of nine local composers for my upcoming concert, Rhapsodic Stories, at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Oct 22. 

With rehearsals piling up, a good massage is all I need to keep going. On weekends, I may go for a sports massage and physiotherapy at Eunique Physio.

I also go for weekly yoga and pilates classes with freelance instructor Amanda Koh. Some weekends, I go for a sunrise yoga practice at the Singapore Botanic Gardens or Fort Canning with Sheila Chapman, also a freelance instructor. But only once in a blue moon, when I can wake up early enough.

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