Orchestral manoeuvres

Published on 27 October 2015

There can’t be too many orchestras on a little island like Singapore, right? Think again!
BY MELANIE LEE

BRADDELL HEIGHTS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (BHSO)

Bringing classical music to 95 per cent of the population. That is the vision of this community orchestra, which is made up of amateur and retired professional musicians from all over the world.

STARTED IN 1986

NUMBER OF MEMBERS 80

REHEARSALS Every Sunday for three hours at Braddell Heights Community Club.

CONCERTS At least four public concerts a year.

INTERESTING NOTE Earlier this year, BHSO performed a localised version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance (aptly titled The Pirates of Pulau Penzance) with a Straits Settlement setting and nine singing actors speaking in Singlish.

PHOTO  BHSO

KIDS PHILHARMONIC

This orchestra, for young ones between six to 16 years old, believes that performing in a disciplined orchestra setting will not only enhance a child’s musical repertoire, but also develop teamwork and leadership skills.

STARTED IN 2012

NUMBER OF MEMBERS 50 in the Junior Orchestra and 50 in the Senior Orchestra.

REHEARSALS Once a week for two to three hours.

CONCERTS Two major concerts a year, with smaller-scale performances at community centres.

INTERESTING NOTE Kids Philharmonic was awarded a Gold at The World Orchestra Festival in Vienna this year.

PHOTO Kids Philharmonic

SINGAPORE CHINESE ORCHESTRA (SCO)

As Singapore’s leading professional Chinese orchestra, SCO takes on the dual role of preserving traditional culture while incorporating Southeast Asian elements to its repertoire. In 2009, it became the first Chinese orchestra to perform in the opening week of the Edinburgh Festival.

STARTED IN 1997

NUMBER OF MEMBERS 83

REHEARSALS Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm; nearing concert dates, additional night rehearsals are held from 7pm to 10pm.

CONCERTS 20 to 24 ticketed concerts in a year including overseas concerts. The SCO also performs in hospitals and nursing homes as part of their community outreach programme.

INTERESTING NOTE SCO erhu musician Wilson Neo is the first recipient of the Shell-NAC Arts Scholarship specialising in a Chinese instrument.

PHOTO  SCO

SINGAPORE LYRIC OPERA (SLO)

This orchestra gets ‘activated’ according to when the Singapore Lyric Opera performs. Musicians are chosen based on their ability to handle challenging operatic works and comprise a mix of professional musicians, music graduates, music teachers and music students.

STARTED IN 2009

NUMBER OF MEMBERS 55 to 60, depending on the scale of production.

REHEARSALS 10 to 12 rehearsals for bigger productions.

CONCERTS Two to three major concerts a year, with smaller-scale performances at community centres.

INTERESTING NOTE The SLO Orchestra has also collaborated with international ballet companies who perform in Singapore. These include Swan Lake by the Bolshoi Ballet.

PHOTO  SLO Orchestra

THE PURPLE SYMPHONY

Singapore’s first inclusive orchestra tugs at the heartstrings with its mix of Singaporean musicians with or without disabilities playing a range of Asian and Western instruments. Around 67 of its orchestra members have special needs ranging from intellectual disabilities to hearing or visual impairment.

STARTED IN 2015

NUMBER OF MEMBERS 83

REHEARSALS Once a week for three hours.

CONCERTS It made its debut this July and will be performing at the 8th ASEAN Para Games held in Singapore this December.

INTERESTING NOTE This orchestra was set up to raise awareness of the abilities of people with special needs. A shining example is Lily Goh, who is skilled in the concert marimba despite a hearing impairment.

PHOTO  Central Singapore CDC

SINGAPORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (SSO)

As an internationally-acclaimed orchestra, the SSO is probably the best known among Singapore’s league of orchestras. Its versatile repertoire includes orchestral masterpieces, all-time favourites and local compositions. In particular, its Concerts for Young Audiences, such as SSO Babies’ Proms, have been a huge hit with the public.

STARTED IN 1978

NUMBER OF MEMBERS 87

REHEARSALS Four rehearsals a week.

CONCERTS Several performances throughout the year at the Victoria Concert Hall and the Esplanade, with community outreach concerts in parks and schools.

INTERESTING NOTE William Tan, a well-known underwater photographer, is a First Violinist with the SSO.

PHOTO  SSO

All Together Now

Here are more orchestras keeping the classics alive.

CITY CHINESE ORCHESTRA
This 41 year-old ensemble contributes actively to the traditional Chinese music scene under the guidance of Cultural Medallion recipient Dr Tay Teow Kiat.

ORCHESTRA OF THE MUSIC MAKERS
Comprising some 140 young musicians in their 20s, this group holds pre-concert open rehearsals to allow the public a rare glimpse of how an orchestra works behind-the-scenes.

THE SINGAPORE NATIONAL YOUTH ORCHESTRA
This 159-member orchestra under the Ministry of Education is made up of students from primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, international schools and tertiary institutions. It is active in promoting works by Singaporean composers such as Cultural Medallion recipient Leong Yoon Pin.

THE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA SINGAPORE
Set up for young adults serious about becoming ensemble musicians. It performs works not usually performed by the other orchestras, so as to breathe new life into a broader range of musical works.

Scroll Up
X