22-year-old violinist Koh Su Ting Natalie wins Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award

Violinist Koh Su Ting Natalie will receive $10,000 in prize money, the highest amount since the annual award was established in 2011. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Violinist Koh Su Ting Natalie, 22, has been named the winner of this year's Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award, which is given to a young string player with a strong track record of musicianship and performance.

She will receive $10,000 in prize money - the highest amount since the annual award in honour of the late pioneer violinist and conductor Goh Soon Tioe was established in 2011.

Ms Koh, who graduated with honours earlier this year from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore, is currently a teaching apprentice at the conservatory.

Veteran violinist Vivien Goh, one of the four judges and the daughter of Mr Goh, says Ms Koh was chosen out of a pool of six accomplished candidates as her "musical maturity" was well above the others.

Ms Koh is delighted with the win. She hopes to run her own violin studio in the future and "get more youth engaged in listening and performing chamber music".

Her parents hold jobs in the IT sector. "My whole family doesn't listen to classical music," she says with a laugh and a shake of her head.

But a love of the arts in all its forms remains strong in the Koh family - her 19-year-old brother, currently undergoing national service, had graduated from the School of the Arts Singapore, specialising in visual arts.

While the winner of the award usually gives a performance, this has been pushed back to the second half of next year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

For Ms Koh, an enthusiastic chamber musician, Covid-19 has put a dampener on her plans.

"Concerts were cancelled, including my graduation recital from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

"I also had to take my violin teaching and music workshops online during the circuit breaker."

Ms Koh has also put her plans to further her studies on hold and will be heading to DePaul University's School of Music in Chicago only in autumn next year.

But she is enjoying every bit of music that seeps its way into her life, adding that she got to rehearse for the Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award audition, "which was great", though she "longs for the day (she) can return to playing in a large ensemble or an orchestra".

The Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award, which is administered by The Community Foundation of Singapore, a philanthropic organisation, has given out nine awards since its inception.

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