Assoc Prof Jason Lai

Associate professor
Principal Conductor, YST Conservatory Orchestra


Jason Lai is a leading light in a new generation of Asian conductors, he is the Principal Conductor of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra and also the Associate Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. 

Early success came when he won the BBC Young Conductors Workshop in 2002 and was awarded the post of Assistant Conductor to the BBC Philharmonic. Making his BBC Proms debut with the orchestra in 2003 Jason was also invited to conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Concert Orchestra. In 2009-2011 he was appointed Artist Associate to the Hong Kong Sinfonietta and later became their Associate Conductor in 2009-2011. 

Jason was also a prize winner at the Leeds Conducting Competition and has assisted or taken part in masterclasses with Pierre Boulez, Colin Davis, Valery Gergiev, Simon Rattle, Daniel Harding, Claus Peter Flor, Eiji Oue and Robert Spano. 

He has conducted the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Malaysian Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic and Hong Kong Sinfonietta where he was appointed Artist Associate and Associate Conductor.

He has also appeared with the Ulster Orchestra, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, Bampton Classical Opera, Salomon Orchestra, Haydn Chamber Orchestra, Havant Symphony Orchestra, Paragon Ensemble, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Singapore National Youth Orchestra, Orpheus Sinfonia, Evergreen Orchestra and Taipei Symphony Orchestra.

Opera credits include Manon with English Touring Opera; Tsarina's Shoes, Albert Herring, Beggar's Opera and Penelope with Guildhall Opera; Don Giovanni and L'infedeltà delusa with Bampton Opera; and Serse with British Youth Opera. 

In addition to conducting, Jason is equally at home in front of the camera as a broadcaster and was the presenter and conductor for Project Symphony, an eight-part series for Okto channel in Singapore where he was filmed setting up a community orchestra. For BBC he has appeared on the panel of BBC Young Musician of the Year competition and was a judge for the BBC2 classical talent show Classical Star. He was one of the conducting mentors in the BBC2 series Maestro and won the competition with his celebrity student comedienne Sue Perkins. Other TV appearances include Clash for CBBC, How a Choir Works BBC4 and The Culture Show BBC2. 

Born in the UK, Jason began his musical studies at the age of 11 and was awarded a scholarship to Chetham’s School of Music to study cello with Raphael Wallfisch and Gillian Thoday. A Hadow Scholarship enabled him to study cello and composition at Oxford University where he also toured extensively with the Allegri Quartet. After becoming a finalist in the BBC Young Composers Award his piece Synopsis was performed by London Sinfonietta. He completed his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was awarded the Fellowship in Conducting.