Kids tune in to classical music at inclusive concert

Professional musician Terresa Huang, 28, giving pointers on how to play the cello. For many of the children, it was their first time seeing such instruments. Professional musician Kevin Cheng, 28, playing the sheng at the Red Bean Concert yesterday.
Professional musician Kevin Cheng, 28, playing the sheng at the Red Bean Concert yesterday. About 60 children - some from low-income backgrounds and others with disabilities - attended the concert, organised by award-winning conductor Wong Kah Chun (in black, wearing glasses) and non-profit agency Child at Street 11.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Professional musician Terresa Huang, 28, giving pointers on how to play the cello. For many of the children, it was their first time seeing such instruments. Professional musician Kevin Cheng, 28, playing the sheng at the Red Bean Concert yesterday.
Professional musician Terresa Huang, 28, giving pointers on how to play the cello. For many of the children, it was their first time seeing such instruments.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

As the musicians performed the classical tune, the children were encouraged to dance, sing and move to the music.

Some of them immersed themselves in the pieces by closing their eyes and tapping to the beat during the hour-long Red Bean Concert yesterday.

A total of about 60 children - some from low-income backgrounds and others with disabilities - gathered at what is believed to be Singapore's first inclusive concert at the Kebun Baru Community Centre in Ang Mo Kio.

For many of the children and families there, it was their first time attending a classical music concert and also their first time seeing instruments like a cello and a sheng, which is a traditional Chinese reed wind instrument.

The unique Chinese instrument was also what caught the eye of nine-year-old Itzel Tan. "I like the sound of it and it is interesting. I hope to learn it one day," said the Primary 3 pupil, who was at the concert with her younger brother and parents.

Yesterday's event, which was also attended by MP for Nee Soon GRC Henry Kwek, was the first in a series of three concerts that will take place this year with the aim of making classical music available to those who have little or no access to such music.

The concerts are organised by award-winning conductor Wong Kah Chun, 31, and non-profit agency Child at Street 11. Mr Wong won the top prize at the prestigious Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in Germany in 2016.

The Red Bean Concert is part of a music education initiative called Project Infinitude 2018 that was co-founded by Mr Wong.

It was inspired by similar concerts in other countries, where children with developmental disabilities and their families are able to express themselves in classical music concerts, he said.

Mr Wong, who will start his appointment as chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra in September, said: "Through music, I would like to inspire more listening in our children, which would lead to empathy, mutual understanding and love in our society."

At the end of the concert, there was also a grand finale in store for the children and their families - a comforting bowl of red bean soup.

Tan Tam Mei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 25, 2018, with the headline 'Kids tune in to classical music at inclusive concert'. Print Edition | Subscribe