ST Causes Week 2019: Making classical music accessible to all youth

President Halimah Yacob and guitar soloist Kevin Loh meeting Bukit Panjang Primary School pupils at the President's Young Performers concert, held at Victoria Concert Hall in September.
President Halimah Yacob and guitar soloist Kevin Loh meeting Bukit Panjang Primary School pupils at the President's Young Performers concert, held at Victoria Concert Hall in September.PHOTO: SINGAPORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Moses Avinash Manikandan, 10, attended his very first classical music concert in September.

Many people find such events intimidating, boring, or too expensive. But the Bukit Panjang Primary School pupil, who described the guitar performance at Victoria Concert Hall as a "memorable experience", did not have to pay a cent for it - thanks to a new programme by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), which aims to make its shows more accessible. (Standard tickets at that particular show, the President's Young Performers concert, had ranged from $15 to $48.)

More than 8,000 young people have benefited from the Young Symphony Explorers programme since its soft launch last year.

While the SSO has offered student concession tickets for years, this is the first time it has set up a formal public fund-raising programme that channels funds into subsidising tickets for students, and offering free tickets to financially needy youth and their minders. Schools or voluntary welfare organisations supporting these youth should e-mail SSO to make arrangements.

The programme is funded by public donations, made through either the SSO's website or Giving.sg

The SSO's chief executive, Mr Chng Hak-Peng, said: "Reaching children when they are young, all the way into their teens, is a very important part of getting the classical music genre into their ears.

"We want people to feel that coming into a concert hall like the Esplanade or Victoria Concert Hall is still a very special night out, but not an inaccessible night out."

About 15 student beneficiaries from non-profit group Blessings in a Bag attended the President's Young Performers concert for free.

"Most of them thought it wasn't their thing, but there were some who were impressed," said Blessings in a Bag's programme coordinator Khoiriyah Zainal, 23.

 

"We believe in exposing them to new opportunities where they can develop new passions or interests.

"Classical performances are definitely not (very) accessible to the youth we serve. (Such musical outings) could encourage one or two of the students to pick up new skills."

To donate, visit www.giving.sg/sso/children or www.sso.org.sg/support-us/appeals/young-symphony-explorers

Schools and charities interested in making group bookings should e-mail ticketing@sso.org.sg and sharing_music@sso.org.sg respectively.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2019, with the headline 'Making classical music accessible to all youth'. Print Edition | Subscribe