This is the fifth instalment of the Charting Pathways series, where YST graduates look back on their experience at the Conservatory, and give us a peek at their plans for the future.
In this article, we hear from Muhammadyor Tulaganov (Dior, BMus '18, Viola) on how he discovered the viola, and the experiences and insights that have been key in his growth as a professional violist.
When I was 16 years old, I encountered the viola up close for the first time hearing a senior in college play it. It had such a fascinating sound that was at once cool, warm and deep. Even though it was my first exposure, I was immediately drawn to this instrument - enough that when an opportunity was offered for me to switch from the violin to viola, I decided to make the change. It was then that my journey with the viola officially began.
Since then my journey has been nothing short of incredible, and studying at YST Conservatory has been crucial in bringing me to where I am. One piece of advice that my viola major study teacher, Assoc Prof Zhang Manchin would give me is that "three things should always be solid in your playing - rhythm, intonation, and sound". These words always remind me of the beauty of the viola's sound that first called out to me. They have also shaped the way I play and opened up many opportunities.
Over the course of my four years at YST, I have had the privilege of playing in public masterclasses for the best violists in the classical music industry such as Lars Anders Tomter, Richard O'Neill, Donald McInnes, and Karen Dreyfus. In addition, I have attended multiple music festivals including the Music Academy of the West Summer Festival (USA), Kammermusik Campus Festival (Germany), and the Stavanger International Chamber Music Festival (Norway).
While awards are not the be-all and end-all of music training, taking part in competitions has also allowed me to put into practice what I have learned - these including the 2017 Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition in USA (in which I received the 2nd prize) and the National Classical Music Competition in Uzbekistan (for which I have been the four-time winner). Throughout my studies, I have been blessed with the opportunity to use Rin collection instruments which have furthered my learning.
During my studies, the YST faculty and administration, particularly Ms Zhang Manchin, have been very supportive of my aspirations. Her optimism and encouragement help me to push myself harder, and her guidance has helped me build my repertoire across chamber, orchestra and solo music - an experience I would recommend for any student seeking professional musical growth.
In addition to my performance studies, I also have a passion for teaching and helping young musicians achieve their goals. In December 2016, I mentored youths in the Singapore International String Conference - an incredible, inspiring and fulfilling experience as I got to work with youths of different abilities and backgrounds. I have also been collaborating with Music Mood on a project called “Music Moment” which helps aspiring musicians learn more efficiently online.
What lies ahead? I am delighted to be joining the Sun Symphony Orchestra (Vietnam) as guest principal violist. Besides being an honour, it is also a great opportunity to get to know a rich orchestral repertoire, understand cultural traditions, and gain a new experience.
If I could give a piece of advice to young musicians, I would encourage them to make the most of their time. YST is one of the few conservatories in the world that provides almost everything its students could wish for, and supports them so fully in their professional aspirations. On behalf of the 2018 graduating cohort, thank you to every teacher and individual who has played a role in our lives, helped us on our musical learning journey, and prepared us for a fulfilling life ahead!
Read the previous Charting Pathways article, where harp graduate Charmaine Teo reflects on how taking charge of her learning as well as receiving guidance and support from those around her helped make her undergraduate experience a rich and meaningful journey.