COMPILED BY JOEL TAN
Published on 31 March 2015
Jazz pianist, composer, singer and teacher, Jeremy Monteiro is one of Singapore’s most celebrated jazz musicians. He began his music career at 16, gigging throughout clubs in Singapore before making his way to international jazz circuits. As part of the trio, Monteiro, Young and Holt, he performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and was hailed by the country’s Swing Magazine as “one of the best exponents of jazz piano”. Over the years, Monteiro would win several international awards, making a name for himself as a live performer and recording artist. Building a discography over 20 titles long, he has performed locally and abroad with a range of jazz celebrities, including saxophonist James Moody and harmonica-player Toots Thielemans.
A prolific composer, Monteiro, dubbed ‘King of Swing’, was awarded a Silver Medal at the 1991 International Radio Festival of New York. He was also a finalist at the 1990 and 1991 London International Advertising Awards for best original music score (radio, TV and cinema). One of his most famous and well-loved compositions is ‘One People, One Nation, One Singapore’, a National Day favourite.
In other résumé highlights, Monteiro was artistic director of the Singapore International Jazz Festival (2001) and a former Board Member of the National Arts Council. In 2002, he was awarded the Cultural Medallion for music.
The renowned Japanese writer is beloved (or reviled) for his novels, short stories and non-fiction written in a style that combines wry observations of city living, sexuality and human relationships with elements of the magical, surreal and uncanny.
Distinctive among other modern Japanese writers, his work displays the heavy influence of American literary greats such as Kurt Vonnegut and Jack Kerouac. This influence emerges clearly in Murakami’s quirky stories of melancholy city dwellers. He is most well known for his novels such as Norwegian Wood, Sputnik Sweetheart and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, all written in Japanese and translated into English. A multi-media stage adaptation of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was one of the highlights of the 2012 Singapore Arts Festival.
MOHAMED LATIFF BIN MOHAMED
Mohamed Latiff bin Mohamed is one of Singapore’s foremost poets and novelists, writing primarily in Malay. A Cultural Medallion recipient for his contributions to literature in 2013, he is the author of several collections of poetry, short stories and novels. He emerged as a literary voice in the 1970s while training to be a teacher (he taught for several years until turning to writing full-time in 1999), and established himself with his critique of the political elite and explorations of the life and struggles of Singapore’s Malay community. Known as the “poet of protest”, his award-winning novels tread similar ground, exploring the human stories behind political events. Notable gems include 1999’s Batas Langit, set in a 1960s Malay kampung in a period marked by Singapore’s merger with the Federation of Malaya. His work has been translated into English, Chinese, Korean and German. The 65-year-old has been on the executive committee of historic Malay literary association, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, for the past 30 years, overseeing the mentorship of young writers.