SG50 music closes the year

Golden Jubilee-themed concerts feature works that resonate with Singaporeans

Singaporean- Australian ensemble Bridges Collective features musicians and instruments from the East and West.
Singaporean- Australian ensemble Bridges Collective features musicians and instruments from the East and West.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

Classical music lovers here can look forward to two more SG50-related performances to round off the year.

On Saturday, the Singaporean-Australian ensemble Bridges Collective will present a multimedia concert titled Our Island Home.

Next Monday, in a concert titled SG Inspirations - A Gift To Singapore, violinist Alan Choo and pianist Lin Hengyue will perform nine works by Singaporean composers who met while studying at the Peabody Conservatory in the United States.

On top of being a Golden Jubilee-themed performance, Our Island Home celebrates 50 years of friendship between Australia and Singapore, says Bridges Collective founder Alex Serrenti, 41, who travels between both countries.

"We asked our Australian friends about songs that are popular there, and one of them said My Island Home. Then we were like, 'Wait, Joshua Wan has a National Day song called My Island Home,'" she says with a laugh, explaining how the show got its name.

Both the Australian song, composed by Neil Murray, and the Singapore one, composed by Wan and originally sung by Kaira Gong in 2006, will be performed in a medley at the show, which has already been staged in Canberra and Melbourne.


    WHERE: Lee Foundation Theatre, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, 151 Bencoolen Street

    WHEN: Saturday, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $20 or $30 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to

    INFO: Go to


    WHERE: Esplanade Recital Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Monday, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $15 from


The full ensemble features musicians and instruments from both the East and West, such as Govin Tan on the Indian tabla, Shunta Goh on the Chinese erhu, as well as Karen Heath on the clarinet and Bridges' artistic co-director Noella Yan on the cello.

It includes original works by composers John Sharpley and Bernard Tan, also a physics professor from the National University of Singapore.

Dr Tan, 72, has given well-loved Singapore songs such as Chan Mali Chan, Home and Liang Wen Fook's Xi Shui Chang Liu the Western classical music treatment.

He adds: "I picked these songs as they are lighthearted yet important to Singaporeans."

Sharpley, 60, has composed works centred on nature on the island, with titles such as Sumatra Squalls and Wild Orchids From Bukit Brown Cemetery. He explains: "We're connected to nature and the environment we live in is our identity. So, for example, in the Bukit Brown piece, I used a sensuous, luxuriant sound for the rainforest, which is suddenly interrupted by machines. So there is a mechanical, repetitive, even brutal ending."

Similarly, Choo and his peers' works are based on their life experiences here. They also drew inspiration from "landscapes and snippets of Singaporean life here", he says.

The result: nine pieces by some of Singapore's most promising young musicians, of which three are fresh compositions. The group has also recorded a CD to be released on concert day.

In A Quiet Grey by Wynne Fung, for instance, is based on her frequent plane rides to and from Singapore, while Tan Yuting wove piano and violin into her piece Lights, based on how the city lights here twinkle and change.

Says Lin: "Since these works are inspired by life in Singapore, they bring back memories bitter and sweet or even both. I hope that through our performance, the audience can be reminded of their own unique memories of growing up in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2015, with the headline 'SG50 music closes the year'. Subscribe