Singaporean in gig too

Student Brenda Koh (above) will play with the Australian World Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Briger, on Oct 1.
Student Brenda Koh (above) will play with the Australian World Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Briger, on Oct 1.PHOTO: BRENDA KOH

When some of Australia's leading classical musicians unite for a concert in Singapore, they will be joined by home-grown violinist Brenda Koh. Just 21, she was picked by the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music - where she is a fourth-year student - to be part of the Australian World Orchestra Academy.

The opportunity gives young talents a one-time place in the orchestra - an honour given to just seven young people before Koh.

Before taking the stage with the orchestra for its performance here on Oct 1, she heads to Sydney late next month for rehearsals.

Koh, who took up the violin at age three, is looking forward to having a taste of life in a professional orchestra. "I can only imagine the level of commitment and passion these musicians have, and I can only hope I have the capacity to learn as much as I can from them ," she says.

She is doing a joint bachelor of music degree, spending five semesters at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music here and three at the Peabody Institute in the United States. An active chamber musician, she has taken part in chamber music festivals in Europe and the US and, in 2012, clinched the top prize for the inaugural Singapore Ensemble Competition.

The Australian World Orchestra is big on education and has been active in its efforts to share its members' knowledge and experience. Its musicians will also conduct masterclasses for Yong Siew Toh students on Oct 1, before its performance. Among them are Shannon Pittaway, who joined the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra last year as principal bass trombone after a decade with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

A Yong Siew Toh spokesman says the conservatory is pleased to partner the orchestra. "Australian World Orchestra's commitment to education through this partnership brings immense value to our students as well as the community."

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2016, with the headline 'Singaporean in gig too'. Print Edition | Subscribe