When thinking of classical music, the first thing that we often imagine is a grand, 100-piece orchestra, performing iconic pieces such as Beethoven’s Fifth. However, most wind players in Singapore would have started off their musical journey in wind or brass bands, never having the opportunity to explore the wondrous world of orchestral music. For current and potential students of the National University of Singapore, fret not, for your chance to make music in an orchestra has come!
The NUS Symphony Orchestra is the pioneer university-level symphony orchestra in Singapore. As a member of the NUS Centre For the Arts, the NUS Symphony Orchestra envisions itself as a youth orchestra at the frontier of Singapore’s vibrant art scene that not only displays musical excellence, but also brings accessible, relevant and educational classical music to the public, especially to other youths. The Orchestra organises both full orchestra and chamber music concerts so as to expose both its members and audiences to different styles of classic music.
We interviewed a few orchestra members who started off in secondary school wind bands, to find out their opinions on the differences between wind bands and orchestras. Here is what they had to say:
“Adjusting to an orchestral setting took some time,” says Syafiq Ong, a clarinetist and the current President of the Orchestra. “I used to sit directly in front of the conductor in a wind band, whereas now I sit all the way back in the second-last row!”
He also shared that the musical approach in orchestra is different from his past band experience. “As classical music literature has been performed for centuries by countless professional orchestras, there are certain expectations of how a piece should be musically interpreted.”
Leong Yi Tung, a bassoonist, shared that parts for wind players are naturally soloistic as most compositions were written for one player per part. “Good musicality is definitely required of our wind players,” she says.
Although it was intimidating at first, Yi Tung found her time in the orchestra to be very fruitful: “The high expectations push me to be a better and more confident player!”
“As the brass sections are much smaller than in orchestra, playing ‘finesse’ is required,” says James Ng, a French Horn player. “Brass players need to be versatile and be sensitive to their tone, as individuals and as a section.”
Moreover, sitting at least five rows away from the conductor, he has learnt to be more aware of fundamentals such entering passages accurately and anticipating the movements of the conductor.
Despite the seemingly challenging transition from band to orchestra, all three members expressed very positive experiences in the NUS Symphony Orchestra. They explained how the Orchestra emphasises on the educational aspect of music and how it provides a safe environment for members to make and learn from mistakes. This makes the learning process very enjoyable for members, further motivating them to push for musical excellence.
If you are interested to know more about classical music, grab your tickets to the NUS Symphony Orchestra’s Resolution, a concert in conjunction with the NUS Arts Festival 2017. The Orchestra will perform Alexander Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony no. 8 Op. 88 under the baton of Music Director and Resident Conductor, Maestro Lim Soon Lee. The Orchestra will also accompany virtuoso violin soloist, Helena Dawn Yah for the 1st movement of Niccolò Paganini’s Violin Concerto no. 1 Op. 6 in D Major.
Date: Saturday, 18th March 2017
Venue: Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concert Hall, National University of Singapore
Tickets: Stall – $20, Circle -$25
Tickets available at http://tinyurl.com/nussoresolution2017.