SCO pays tribute to the past

The Singapore Chinese Orchestra's new season includes concerts for adults and children that draw from Chinese heritage

The start of a new season by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) sees its music director Yeh Tsung reminiscing about the past.

The gala concert, which happens tonight at the Esplanade Concert Hall, features American musician Chelsea Chen on the pipe organ.

Yeh, 67, recalls: "In 1981 and 1982, when I was a student in New York, I used to play the pipe organ for church services and weddings."

This is the first time the orchestra is playing alongside a pipe organist.

The concert, which also features Chinese pianist Sun Yingdi, is the season opener for the SCO.

The new season features four other concerts that pay tribute to the past.

Yeh will conduct two concerts that draw on different elements of Chinese heritage.

SCO resident conductor Quek Ling Kiong (left) and actor Ong Teck Chon in A Voyage To Nanyang IV – Karung Guni Capriccioso, in which children can learn more about retro items such as the abacus and typewriter. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SINGAPORE CHINESE ORCHESTRA

A new series, Hits Of Chinese Music, will debut on Dec 8 and 9 with music played on woodwind instruments. These include old Chinese favourites such as Red Blossoms Abound and The Wailing River.

An Evening Of Xinyao, on Oct 22, will present a comprehensive look at the xinyao scene from the past to the present, featuring hits by artists such as Liang Wern Fook and Eric Moo.

The other two concerts are designed for younger audiences.

Concert For Little Tots - Tales And Legends, which takes place on Oct 7, features a retelling of Chinese folk tales and legends such as The Magic Paintbrush by storyteller Kamini Ramachandran alongside local compositions conducted by SCO assistant conductor Moses Gay.


    WHERE: Esplanade Concert Hall, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Tonight, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $38 to $98 (go to or call 6348-5555)


The concert is performed in English and is meant for children aged six and below.

"Music lends itself instinctively to storytelling. Traditional storytellers were either accompanied by musicians or played instruments during their storytelling. Live music creates another dimension that truly supports the imagination to soar," says Ramachandran, 49.

Children aged seven and above can learn more about retro items, such as the abacus, typewriter and vinyl records, through the Young People's Concert series, A Voyage To Nanyang IV - Karung Guni Capriccioso, which takes place on Nov 10 and 11.

SCO resident conductor Quek Ling Kiong will play Ah De, a young man from China who comes to Nanyang and meets an antique shop owner (played by actor Ong Teck Chon).

Through Ah De, audiences will be introduced to various retro objects and learn how they are used.

The orchestra will also premiere a new local composition, Karung Guni Capriccioso by Singapore composer Phang Kok Jun, during the concert.

"Growing up in the heartland, I often heard the karung guni men ringing their bells, playing their two-toned horns and repeating their catchy chants and I would happily sing along," says Phang, 28.

"This piece gives me an opportunity to turn these familiar sounds into musical motifs, piecing them together to tell the story of our hardworking karung guni men."

Yeh says it is important to programme concerts for children "to emphasise our future".

"We try to design children's programmes with elements such as costumes and interactions such as clapping or singing together," he says. "These children's concerts are very important for us because sooner or later, they will replace their parents and become our new audiences."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2017, with the headline 'SCO pays tribute to the past'. Print Edition | Subscribe