YST opened the 2018/19 academic year on a very special note. It celebrated its 15th anniversary and partnership with the Peabody Institute (Peabody) of the Johns Hopkins University in a gala concert on 21 August, which also kick-started Voyage, a week-long music festival that saw more than 70 YST graduates curating and presenting concerts and panel discussions.
The festivities began with Celebrating 15 Years, a gala concert performed by alumni, students and faculty of Peabody and YST. Gracing the event were key leadership figures in the founding of YST, Guest-of-Honour Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Singapore’s former Deputy Prime Minister and President and current Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (then Education Minister), as well as current Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung. Around 600 people attended the gala, which was also live-streamed on Facebook with over 8,000 views.
It proved to be an evening of musical highlights, featuring conductor Kahchun Wong (’11, Composition); Prof Qian Zhou; Head of Piano Prof Thomas Hecht; and the Red Dot Baroque founded by Alan Choo ('12, Violin); amongst others.
Commenting on the NUS-Peabody partnership, YST Dean Prof Bernard Lanskey shared, “Our collaboration has offered much-valued support and friendship, and energised important initiatives such as the Joint Degree and Student Exchange Programmes. We are also grateful for NUS and the Ministry of Education’s continual commitment in setting up YST as a beacon of music excellence for Singapore and the region.”
A similar boldness of vision showed in Voyage, a festival of seven concerts and two panel discussions that sought to redefine classical music conventions. From incorporating multidisciplinary elements and transforming spaces with striking multimedia visuals, to creating delightful musical surprises such as a jazz band featuring the Chinese erhu, Voyage took creative strides that were met with favourable response, with each concert seeing full attendance and a waitlist for entry.
The festival was spearheaded by Jade Tan Shi Yu ('17, Voice) alongside co-director Mervin Wong ('18, Viola). Jade shared, “We wanted to make the classical concert more vivid and immersive, and break down barriers to connecting with music. Often, performers and the audience are separated on different levels, and the audience doesn’t laugh, talk or react. We sought to tear down these walls and experiment with new mediums and technological possibilities. For example, our concert The Bistro was held on YST’s ground level walkway, where we projected images on to the Conservatory’s white walls.”
Planning the festival was not easy, with the organising team and performers spread across the globe, and everyone having different work and school schedules. However, the team was supported by enthusiastic alumni who willingly went the extra mile — some travelling back from abroad, and many performing in multiple shows. Christopher Mui ('17, Cello), who flew in from his native Australia, shared, “I am grateful for the wonderful music education I received during my four years at YST. Being in this festival was a way for me to thank the school and reconnect with my alma mater.”
It was truly a week rich in meaning that points to even more promising developments ahead. As Jade noted, reflecting on the festival as a whole, “We’re proud of what we have achieved so far — and we look forward to doing even better.”
YST was featured in The Straits Times on its 15th anniversary, new academic offerings and alumni achievements. Read the articles below.
This article was first published on 30 August in NUS News here.