Profile: The Philharmonic Winds

Published on 8 June 2015

The Philharmonic Winds trumpets its artistic agenda on occasion of its 15th anniversary.

BY DAPHNE ONG

They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, brought together by their love for wind instruments like the flute, trombone, tuba and clarinet. Among the talented players who form The Philharmonic Winds are teachers, bankers, military professionals, school-band instructors and music students.

Founded in 2000, The Philharmonic Winds, which celebrates 15 illustrious years of music-making this year, counts more than 150 musicians in its fold, including youth members. These dedicated musicians devote anywhere between one to four rehearsals per week to prepare for regular performances, which include three to four concerts annually, chamber group performances and outreach concerts.

The orchestra keeps things interesting: every concert is themed and their repertoire comprises a wide range of music. Not only do they play Western classics from the likes of Mozart, Dvrák and Strauss, they also perform music by Asian composers, including two full concerts of music by Japanese composers. They present Asian-composed music that has never been played in Singapore before, and have proudly presented Singaporean compositions overseas.

“Homegrown composers are very promising indeed,” says music director Dr Leonard Tan. “We see a wide variety of musical styles, which reflect Singapore’s musical eclecticism. We have supported several homegrown composers through our commissioning initiatives and the Singapore Compose project.”

“Homegrown composers are very promising indeed,” says music director Dr Leonard Tan. “We see a wide variety of musical styles, which reflect Singapore’s musical eclecticism. We have supported several homegrown composers through our commissioning initiatives and the Singapore Compose project.”

There is certainly no lack of passion and prominent talent to lead the orchestra. Dr Tan, an assistant professor at the National Institute of Education-Nanyang Technological University, helps push artistic boundaries through programming bold works and commissioning new ones. Principal guest conductor Timothy Reynish has injected flourish and originality into the orchestra not only with his international experience, but also his artistic concepts and thoughtful repertoire.

Aside from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) or the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO), many Singaporeans are unaware of the flourishing classical music groups in our midst. Yet, as Adrian Cheong, president of The Philharmonic Winds, points out, “The Singapore classical music scene is very vibrant! The Philharmonic Winds serves to push the envelope on what wind orchestras can do — we hope to do for wind music what the SSO and SCO are doing for classical western and Chinese music respectively.”

Catch The Philharmonic Winds’ 15th Anniversary Concert: Marco Polo — The Trilogy at Esplanade Concert Hall on 21 June.

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