Music fest with the best

Concerts will feature Singapore musicians alongside soloists from the storied Chamber Orchestra of Europe (above).
Concerts will feature Singapore musicians alongside soloists from the storied Chamber Orchestra of Europe (above).PHOTO: PRISKA KETTERER

Second edition of Singapore International Festival of Music features acclaimed musicians from Europe and Singapore

The fledgling Singapore International Festival of Music will spread its wings for its second edition in October.

From Oct 13 to 30, more than 20 free and ticketed concerts and workshops will feature Singapore musicians alongside soloists from hip Norwegian string ensemble 1B1 and the storied Chamber Orchestra of Europe, hailed by BBC music reviewers as the "world's best chamber orchestra". The orchestra was founded in 1981 and the members are musicians of nationally based orchestras and music academics.

The festival curated by well known conductor Darrell Ang and violinist Loh Jun Hong began last year, with six concerts played in different rooms of The Arts House.

This year has many more events at The Arts House, National Gallery Singapore and Victoria Concert Hall, divided into the ticketed Chamber Series and free Festival Fringe performances.

From next week, a parallel outreach programme will have festival musicians presenting concert excerpts at heartland libraries and malls.


  • WHERE: Various locations

    WHEN: Oct 13 to 30

    ADMISSION: Individual performances from $32 to $72 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to Discounted prices for admission to more than one show.


Organisers say the festival costs about $300,000 to produce this year. It is run by new company Sifom, in collaboration with Arts House - which manages The Arts House and presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts - and home-grown opera company OperaViva.

Festival tickets are priced from $32 to $72 for individual performances, with discounts for viewers watching multiple shows.

Ang, 36, sees this as a festival showcasing the "cream of the crop" of classical musicians in Singapore, notably younger professionals.

"This festival is to focus on, in the space of a month, all the talent we have in Singapore."

On Oct 13, he leads members of the top-ranked Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the festival orchestra - young professional musicians not with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra - in music from Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy and RimskyKorsakov's Scheherazade.

On Oct 14, 1B1 play Vivaldi's famous The Four Seasons, with four young string players from Singapore aged 10 to 16.

Among them is violinist Basil Ong Tze Wee, who turns 15 this year and is a third-year student at Raffles Institution. He is excited about performing with 1B1 after seeing videos online. He says: "They look very active and energetic. I've not seen any other ensemble move a lot as such. It's unique."

The festival includes vocal recitals from Singapore Lyric Opera's honorary artistic director Nancy Yuen, Chinese bass-baritone Ao Li and Russian mezzo-soprano Vasilisa Berzhanskaya, a 23-year-old guest soloist at the State Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theater in Vladivostok.

Going beyond the traditional repertoire of classical music, Ding Yi Music Company joins Vietnam's Song Hong Chamber Music at Victoria Concert Hall on Oct 16 for an evening featuring commissioned works by Ang and 20something Singaporean composer Phang Kok Jun, among others.

Then there is Ikan Girl (Fish Girl) on Oct 21 and 23, a 40-minute dance performance with music written by Syafiqah 'Adha Sallehin for The Bhumi Collective, comprising seven Singaporean students aged 30 and younger studying overseas.

The collective brings elements of traditional Malay dance and music to contemporary works and this month showcases an original production, Bhumi (Soil), at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Ikan Girl is based on a Malay folk tale similar to Snow White, about a beautiful girl targeted by a jealous queen. The project is a first for Syafiqah, who graduated last year with a master's in composition from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and teaches at the School of the Arts.

She says: "It's an unbelievable thing to happen to me. I'm so excited about working with The Bhumi Collective. This will be my longest work and also my first full work with another art form."

Ms Lee Chor Lin, chief executive of Arts House, says: "This year, it's grown into a more diverse festival with exciting offerings that will really change people's minds about classical music." She hopes to see a third edition at The Arts House next year.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story referred to Vasilisa Berzhanskaya as a soprano instead of a mezzo-soprano. This has been corrected.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Music fest with the best'. Print Edition | Subscribe