More than 1,200 attend concert by inclusive orchestra featuring people with special needs

(From left) Stuart and Orion Ang receive a token of appreciation from Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Mayor of Central Singapore District Denise Phua, on Aug 25, 2019.
(From left) Stuart and Orion Ang receive a token of appreciation from Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Mayor of Central Singapore District Denise Phua, on Aug 25, 2019.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - When his 10-year-old son Orion was diagnosed with autism seven years ago, music enthusiast Stuart Ang would not have dreamt that he could play in a concert with his son.

But on Sunday (Aug 25), that dream came true for Mr Ang.

Playing the French horn, the pair joined around 100 other musicians as part of The Purple Symphony orchestra to perform for more than 1,200 people, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Mr Ang, 37, who is self-employed, told The Straits Times: "This is our first time performing together. Seven years before, when he was diagnosed, I could not have imagined that Orion could come so far."

He said Orion, who has a short attention span, picked up the instrument only in March.

"Some people say it's one of the hardest instruments in the world to learn. It takes practice and he practises every day."

The concertat the Esplanade was held in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of The Purple Symphony, which is Singapore's largest inclusive orchestra. It features musicians with and without special needs.

The Purple Symphony, which was started by Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC) in 2015, has grown from 80 to more than 100 musicians, and has performed for thousands, both in Singapore and abroad.

Sunday's concertwas also held in commemoration of Singapore's Bicentennial, and featured locally composed and arranged pieces that fused the sounds of instruments from different parts of the world.

Central Singapore CDC said in a statement that this year's concert, titled "Dreams of Our Little Red Dot", was designed to "relive the memories of Singapore's early founding years, to her growth into a modern 21st century city".

 

Ms Denise Phua, who is mayor of Central Singapore District and advisor to The Purple Symphony, said the orchestra was proof of what individuals with and without special needs could achieve together.

She said: "These five years have not been easy, but it was worth every minute and every effort to put together Singapore's largest inclusive orchestra from scratch.

"We want to show others that our musicians can use their talents and abilities to inspire Singaporeans through their music, and be a beacon of inclusivity for others."