Profile: Goh Kheng Long

Published on 3 August 2015

Music director Goh Kheng Long has composed soaring numbers for National Day Parade, Chingay and more.

BY DAPHNE ONG

One of Singapore’s most versatile, prolific and sought-after music professionals, Goh Kheng Long is a name that holds its own among the firmament of music stars in Asia.

Best known as music director, producer and arranger to the stars, Goh has toured with big names in the Mandarin pop scene like Wang Lee Hom, Jacky Cheung, JJ Lin, David Tao and Stefanie Sun. The multiple-award winner is also an accomplished songwriter, composing the score for the 2006 musical In Love With Carmen starring Taiwanese chart-topper A-Mei.

As an energetic five-year-old hitting out rhythms on furniture with a pair of chopsticks, Goh’s early start landed him a scholarship from Yamaha to study music arrangement and composition. He was then only eight years old. From the early 1980s to ’90s, Taiwanese record companies began noticing the young arranger’s work, giving Goh his break into the Mandarin pop scene.

Goh’s talent is undisputed and his passion, obvious. When asked what he likes best about his work, his reply, “Everything about it! I love music, so I’m lucky my interest and my hobby is my work. All these years, I’ve never really considered my work just a job.”

The disciplined musician typically starts his day with a morning practice session on the piano before moving on to creating music and attending meetings, before keeping fit with workouts in the later part of the day.

Whether they know it or not, Goh’s music has touched most Singaporeans. His composition ‘In a Heartbeat’ was Singapore’s 2011 National Day theme song. The same year, he was music director for the National Day Parade, and produced and arranged the grand remake of Dick Lee’s classic National Day song ‘Home’. He was also music director for Chingay 2015 and co-wrote the finale song ‘Dreams’ with JJ Lin and Corrinne May.

Your next chance to experience Goh’s work is at this month’s Nanyang, the Musical, part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2015. Set against the backdrop of World War II in China and Southeast Asia, the musical follows the tale of one artist’s journey of discovery set amid tumultuous times. The music, crafted by renowned composer Eric Ng and award-winning lyricist Xiaohan, is beautifully arranged by Goh.

Ever forward-looking, Goh’s philosophy is simple, “My next piece of work will be my best!” We ask if he can identify one valuable piece of advice for aspiring music professionals. Without missing a beat, he replies, “I believe in maintaining your skills — you have to keep practising your craft, but more importantly, treat all jobs big or small with equal commitment and respect.”

Nanyang, the Musical plays 6-8 August at the Drama Centre Theatre. Tickets available from Sistic.

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