Singapore Chinese Music Festival launches next month

In a push to boost Singapore's Chinese music scene and foster the development of young musicians, the Singapore Chinese Music Federation has spearheaded a new festival which will start next month.

The inaugural Singapore Chinese Music Festival, which runs from July 21 to Sept 8, will feature about 15 concerts and a few talks.

Held mostly at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and Singapore Conference Hall in Tanjong Pagar, it will showcase about 30 amateur and professional Chinese music groups.

The festival, which is meant to be a biennial event, is organised by the federation together with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) and Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.

It aims to bring together Singapore's Chinese music groups, encourage cultural exchange and give more groups - including smaller ones - a platform to perform on.

Performers are not limited to professional groups, which include the SCO, Ding Yi Music Company and The Teng Ensemble.

Community groups include the City Chinese Orchestra, Cheng San Chinese Orchestra, Singapore Foochow Association Chinese Orchestra and several schools. Some overseas musicians will also perform at the festival.

"We want to 'recapture' passionate musicians who used to play in their school Chinese orchestra or youth orchestra," says SCO executive director Terence Ho. "We hope they will return to the orchestra and pick up their instruments again."

This year's theme is Unity In Diversity - Building A Sustainable Singapore Chinese Music Ecosystem. The idea of sustainability speaks to one of the festival's goals - to help expand Singapore's pool of Chinese musicians, hopefully resulting in more star players.

"If you want to build a pinnacle (of top-notch performers), you have to build a base. (We need to) work harder to close the gap, to encourage more people to become interested in playing the instrument," Mr Ho adds.

The idea of a Chinese music festival is not new here.

Singapore's first Chinese music festival - which no longer exists - was launched in 1981 by the country's then-Ministry of Culture and National Theatre Club in a bid to counter the dominance of Western music. It was discontinued after 1987.

Mr Ho, who is also vice-president of the Singapore Chinese Music Federation and a Nominated Member of Parliament, says he hopes the festival will be a showcase of musicianship as well as new original music composed by Singaporeans.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore Chinese Music Festival launches next month'. Print Edition | Subscribe