The Conducting Studio
Conducting as a major study is offered only in the Master of Music Degree programme. The programme provides aspiring conductors with opportunities to work with a range of ensembles from orchestra and choir to smaller ensembles performing contemporary works. Students will work closely with the Principal Conductor and other faculty to gain an insight into rehearsal technique and performance, concert opportunities as well as masterclasses with visiting conductors will be offered when deemed appropriate. Typically, post-graduate conductors would have already established a significant conducting portfolio, including conducting work in a community context.
For undergraduates, fundamental concepts of conducting are introduced at a modular level, as well as through ensemble leadership classes. The module ‘Advanced Conducting’ is available via audition to undergraduates who have excelled in the conducting module.
Having graduated from the course, students have gone on to achieve success in the community. Our first graduate Adrian Chiang has formed orchestras and helped build a following for local music as well as continuing to teach children and adults at all levels. Our present batch of students also have good connections to musical institutions in Singapore and are looking to collaborate with the conservatory to help music education. They will all leave the course with a fresh perspective on their conducting and find new ways to communicate with musicians and audiences alike.
Having a conducting programme in the Conservatory has also helped undergraduates achieve their goals of becoming conductors with notable success in competitions and auditions globally. Several former students now have good assistant conductor positions and some have gone on to win major international competitions.
During the two years of the Master’s programme, students can expect to have conducted a wide range of ensembles including chamber groups, chamber orchestras, choirs and full orchestra. Studies will revolve around repertoire that the Conservatory Orchestra are performing, weekly classes with piano will help them prepare the repertoire and there will be podium time on various projects. During the first year, core work will be taught in weekly studio classes, this will revolve around ear training, analysis, baton technique, score reading and preparation, and presentation skills. Beyond the studio classes, lessons will concentrate on the other areas of conducting and will be individually tailored. During the second year, students will be required to complete a community project and a final recital in which they will receive more podium time and masterclasses with visiting conductors. Furthermore, they will also be expected to help to teach basic conducting to undergraduates as part of pedagogy. Students are encouraged to attend rehearsals in Yong Siew Toh as well as other orchestras and ensembles in Singapore, and occasionally outside engagements will be offered.