New Season Begins: Dreams and Apparitions

It is our pleasure, as we offer best wishes for 2018, to introduce YST Conservatory’s artistic programme for the first half of the year.

Our title “Dreams and Apparitions”, emerges from a quote by Claude Debussy which he wrote to his publisher in July 1910: “After all, an artist is by definition a man accustomed to dreams and living among apparitions”. As we reach the centenary of the composer’s death, we have taken this quote as an inspirational source not only in relation to Debussy’s own music and life but also as a perspective for some of our other choices for programming the semester.

To begin with Debussy himself, our students will be collaborating with fellows from the Suntory Hall Chamber Music Academy (CMA) in this year’s Victoria Concert Hall concert (March 24) – Claude Debussy: Musicien Français -  as a tribute to his life through selections of music framed with readings from his almost equally evocative letters. The fellows from the Suntory Hall CMA will also perform a Ones To Watch recital (March 20) sponsored by the Shaw Foundation.

Debussy is also the center point of our Esplanade Concert (April 10) where the revolution in sonority represented by his transformative orchestral work, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1894), can be heard surrounded by two iconic works which just preceded it: Richard Strauss’ Don Juan (1888) and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (1880), the latter with Albert Tiu as soloist. Tributes to Debussy can be heard in programmes curated by Prof Thomas Hecht, Head of Keyboard Studies (April 17) and Roger Vignoles, Ong Teng Cheong Professor of Music (April 11).

Beyond Debussy, another featured composer is Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky was much inspired by Debussy, not only through the older composer’s music but also through experiencing his immediate mentorship around the time of the Rite of Spring. We are pleased to welcome Maestro Masaaki Suzuki, who returns for a performance of Pulcinella. Stravinsky’s ballet will be preceded by a range of baroque compositions which were its source of inspiration. Stravinsky also features at the end of our tribute concert to Debussy, as the Russian composer offered his Symphonies of Winds as his contribution to a special Tombeau edition for La Revue Musicale.

The “Dreams” dimension of our quote dominates some of the other highlights.  The semester actually features three significant competitions: the 2nd Singapore International Violin Competition (January 28-February 8), the preliminary rounds of our own internal Concerto Competition (in March, sponsored by the Shaw Foundation’s Ones To Watch), and the Leeds International Piano Competition which has selected the Conservatory for one of its three global first round venues (the other two being in Berlin and New York). The Leeds International Piano Competition’s artistic director, Paul Lewis will join us in March for a recital while the Violin Competition will also offer an artist-in-residence with world-renowned violinist, Shlomo Mintz offering a solo concert and series of masterclasses. Finally, under “Dreams”, I should mention our Senior Recitals, the all-important final concerts of our students before they head off into the wider world!

April sees the first iteration of Sounding Now, a contemporary music festival presented by YST in collaboration with LASALLE College of the Arts. The festival brings together divergent contemporary practices with the goal of connecting people from different artistic communities in order to explore the ways their shared interests intersect. 

There are, as you can see in the following pages, many other programmes and productions also scheduled for the semester including our Community Engagement Day incorporating our annual Children’s Concert (March 25), a faculty recital by Qin Li-Wei and Albert Tiu (April 19), Prof. Hecht’s studio concert, Sonatensatz (April 9) and our first-ever student-led musical, FIX(,) the musical (February 27-28), which was selected as part of NUS Centre for the Arts ExxonMobil Campus Concerts, as well as external events in the National Gallery, Asian Civilisations Museum and Sengkang Health. Other visitors of renown include legendary pianist Murray Perahia (March 6), Finnish conducting pedagogue Jorma Panula (January 23 & 25) and the Shanghai Quartet (March 15).

We look forward to welcoming you often – in person or virtually through one of our live streams – as we seek to offer ways to listen to music in new light.

Prof. Bernard Lanskey