Children get to enjoy classical music concert, many for the first time

Conductor Wong Kah Chun moderating the Red Bean Concert on March 24, 2018.
Conductor Wong Kah Chun moderating the Red Bean Concert on March 24, 2018.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - As the musicians performed the classical tunes, 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 on Saturday (March 24).

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 Bahru Community Centre in Ang Mo Kio.

For many of the children and families attending, 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.

The 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 (2018) to make 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 had won the first 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 hour-long concert, there was also a grand finale in store for the children and their families - a comforting bowl of red bean soup.