Opera singers among highlights of Singapore International Festival of Music

Singapore International Festival of Music brings together young classical musicians from Singapore and overseas

Most teens and 20somethings listen to Taylor Swift. Young opera hopefuls here swoon over Chinaborn bass-baritone Li Ao and poised Russian redhead Vasilisa Berzhanskaya.

The two 20something stars are performing at next month's Singapore International Festival of Music, which runs from Oct 13 to 30.

The festival spotlighting top young musical talent is the brainchild of Singaporean conductor Darrell Ang. It began last year as a handful of concerts at different spaces in The Arts House, meant to highlight rising musicians here.

This year, the festival brings in 20something headliners from around the globe to perform alongside Singaporean talent.

It has scheduled more than 20 free and ticketed performances and workshops, including concerts and masterclasses from Li and Berzhanskaya.


There are other collaborations to give young Singaporean musicians a push.

In the opening weekend, Singaporean musicians in the festival orchestra will play alongside soloists from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe - hailed by BBC music reviewers as the "world's best chamber orchestra" - as well as hip young string ensemble 1B1 from Norway.

A two-month outreach which began on Aug 27 has musicians performing at heartland malls and public libraries.

Coming up is a free movement performance from The Bhumi Collective, a group of Singaporeans studying overseas.

The collective presents Ikan Girl, composed by the festival's first resident composer, Syafiqah 'Adha Sallehin, and based on a folk tale about a girl who becomes a fish.

Conductor Ang, 36, calls the work "one of Singapore's most important artistic creations" and representative of the diversity of Singapore's musicians and musical culture.

The festival is also giving several Singaporean musicians a place to shine.

Singaporean soprano Victoria Songwei Li will give her first solo recital on Oct 20, for example.

The festival is presented in collaboration with Arts House Limited (which manages the former Parliament building and the Singapore International Festival of Arts) and opera company OperaViva, as well as sponsors such as Russia's Musical Olympus Foundation.

While young violinists and pianists often come together for recitals here - Loh Jun Hong and Abigail Sin are one such 20something dynamic duo - opera hopefuls in Singapore have fewer places to prove themselves.

Ang says: "We intend to promote and identify the cream of the crop, the young ones who are out there. The festival is bringing everyone together to focus, in the space of a month, on all the classical music that is happening in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline 'Celebrating classical talent'. Print Edition | Subscribe