SCO names Yeh Tsung as conductor emeritus, Quek Ling Kiong as principal conductor

Yeh Tsung (left) will step down as music director while Quek Ling Kiong will be promoted to principal conductor. PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CHINESE ORCHESTRA

SINGAPORE – Maestro Yeh Tsung, who has helmed the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) for 20 years, will step down as music director and be appointed conductor emeritus starting 2023.

SCO’s resident conductor Quek Ling Kiong will be promoted to principal conductor at the same time.

Announcing this on Wednesday, SCO said the slate of new appointments are part of its leadership renewal and succession planning.

When Yeh, 72, was first appointed by SCO two decades ago, the Shanghai-born, Western-trained conductor was the world’s first music director to lead a symphony orchestra – the South Bend Symphony Orchestra in the United States – and a Chinese orchestra across two continents concurrently.

Quek, 55, was appointed SCO’s resident conductor in 2013, and Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra’s music director in 2016. He will plan the new SCO concert season from July 2023. 

SCO chairman Ng Siew Quan expressed his gratitude to Yeh for his leadership of the SCO, and for building the SCO into the world-class Chinese orchestra that it is today.

“We are very pleased that maestro Tsung Yeh has agreed to continue contributing to SCO as conductor emeritus. I also congratulate Ling Kiong on his new appointment and wish him success in his new capacity,” said Mr Ng.

Three musicians will also be appointed as section leaders overseeing the respective sections of the orchestra to ensure the highest artistic standards.

They are concertmaster Li Baoshun (strings section), dizi principal Yin Zhiyang (winds and percussion section) and sanxian associate principal Huang Guifang (plucked strings section). Eight SCO veteran musicians, including the three section leaders, will be concurrently appointed members of the SCO’s music advisory panel to provide artistic advice on programme curation, and selection of guest artists and conductors.

Mr Ng said that going forward, SCO’s artistic leadership will be driven collectively by the conductors, section leaders and music advisory panel.

In an earlier interview with The Straits Times, Yeh, a 2013 Cultural Medallion recipient, said that while he will continue conducting for another 10 years or so, he hopes to catch up on his research and writing on conducting to impart his knowledge to the younger generation.  He will also be spending more time with his family, including his 98-year-old mother, wife Wong Sau Lan, three children and his grandson Moonji. 

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