2020 in Retrospect
It has been a year unlike any other we have known. Despite all this, the year has also yielded opportunities for digital transformation and virtual growth, forcing us to redefine ourselves outside of our routines and face the future with a new sense of purpose and much-needed hope.
As we wrap up the year, here’s a look back at memorable moments from the SSO in 2020:
KAVAKOS PLAYS KORNGOLD CONCERT
Live at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 17 January 2020
This concert marked the first time Maestro Hans Graf would conduct the orchestra since being announced as the SSO’s Chief Conductor in July 2019. The virtuoso Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos performed Korngold’s tuneful, Hollywood-inspired Violin Concerto; while the then SSO Chief Conductor-designate conducted Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, the epic Pathétique Symphony.
On 6 January 2021, catch Chief Conductor Hans Graf as he joins the orchestra to conduct Mozart’s Linz Symphony and Piano Concerto No. 23 with soloist Albert Tiu, at Esplanade Concert Hall. This will be his first appearance in front of a live audience in Singapore since he took up the role of Chief Conductor at the beginning of the 2020/21 Season.
Buy tickets to this upcoming concert here.
JOE HISAISHI IN CONCERT WITH THE SSO
Presented by Willow Arts
Live at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 21 and 22 Feb 2020
World renowned Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi made his long-awaited debut in Singapore, performing to a full house over two nights with the SSO and Singaporean soprano Jennifer Lien.
SYMPHONY IN THE GARDENS
Live at Gardens by the Bay, The Meadow, 15 March 2020
Overnight, this popular free concert had its audience entry limited to 250 persons, due to newly-announced social distancing guidelines. As part of our dedication to frontline workers, this concert was dedicated to Singapore’s healthcare angels and we extended invitations to 294 employees of frontline service providers in healthcare and transport to our concerts in February and March 2020.
Watch the livestream here.
SPIRIT OF SERENITY
Premiered on SSO YouTube channel, 28 March 2020
Initially scheduled as two concerts of choral and orchestral music, the concert was swiftly reprogrammed into a livestream concert of music for a small string ensemble, led by conductor Darrell Ang. This was the last time the orchestra performed on stage together before the Circuit Breaker.
Watch the livestream here.
SSO LIVE & DIGITAL PREMIERES
28 March – 13 June 2020, Alternate Saturdays
In response to the Circuit Breaker measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore, with the closure of concert halls and stay-home orders in force, the SSO initiated the SSOPlayOn! digital season at short notice in late March 2020. Months of online content were planned and curated to keep music alive and lift the spirits of Singaporeans while they stayed home.
Free performances streamed on SSO’s YouTube page on Saturdays, including Digital Premieres of newly released concert footage.
Full playlist of SSO Live and Digital Premieres here.
JASON LAI’S CLASSICAL MUSIC MEDITATION
5 April – 26 April 2020, Every Sunday
Our former SSO Associate Conductor Jason Lai led a four-part meditation series, aided by beautiful music performed by the SSO.
Full playlist here.
CONVERSATIONS WITH THE ARTIST
Premiered on the SSO Facebook page, 15 May – 19 June 2020, Fridays
SSO Principal Percussionist Jon Fox switched his drumsticks for a mic as he hosted this series of engaging video conversations with artists from across the music world. This series was broadcast on the SSO Facebook page every Friday in May and June with fascinating insights into the guests’ musical lives.
Watch the series here.
SINGAPORE SYMPHONY CHORUSES PRESENT: WE WILL GET THERE
Premiered on MediaCorp Channel 5, 15 June 2020
The Singapore Symphony Choruses released a music video, “We Will Get There”, featuring singer Joanna Dong, string musicians of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and choral accompanists, Gabriel Hoe and Shane Thio to rally the nation as Singapore moved into Phase 2 and the first phase of the post-circuit breaker period. To date, the video has received over a million views on across all broadcast platforms since it aired on national television.
Watch the music video here.
SSO MUSICIANS PLAY FOR INVICTUS FUND CAMPAIGN
25 June – 31 August 2020
The SSO Musicians Play for Invictus Fund campaign helped the Community Chest raise funds to support social service agencies through the COVID-19 situation. Recorded from their homes, SSO musicians Jamie Hersch, Hoang Van Hoc and Lau Wen Rong performed the Jupiter Hymn by Gustav Holst (arranged by Hoang Van Hoc).
Watch the video here.
SSO SEASON OPENING CONCERT (Online)
Premiered on SISTIC Live, 11 July 2020
Dedicated to the people of Singapore, with opening speeches by then Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu, and SSO Chief Conductor Hans Graf, the SSO’s 20/21 Season Opening Concert marked the beginning of our digital concert series featuring newly recorded performances. This was a turning point after three months of free SSOPlayOn! digital season content, presented during the COVID-19 circuit breaker phase.
CITY IN NATURE (ONLINE)
Premiered on NParks YouTube Channel and SSO Facebook pages, 26 July 2020
To mark the 5th anniversary of the Gardens’ inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the SSO and the National Parks Board presented the first City in Nature online concert comprising a series of recordings of SSO performances. Hosted by Mediacorp Symphony 924 host Andrew Lim with an introduction by SSO Associate Conductor Joshua Tan, the concert also showcased flora and fauna from Singapore’s parks and gardens, streetscapes and vibrant biodiversity, creating a unique experience with local nature and music.
Watch the concert here.
SSO NATIONAL DAY CONCERT (Online)
COUNT ON ME SINGAPORE MUSIC VIDEO
Premiered on SISTIC Live, 15 August 2020
For this special SSO National Day Concert, Singaporean composers Sandra Lim, Tan Yuting and Jonathan Shin rewrote their music to fit reduced orchestra sizes. The orchestra also presented the world premiere of Brahman: Kannagi's Realization by Singapore-based veteran composer, John Sharpley featuring the accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, Kshirja Govind.
The online National Day Concert 2020 also featured a special tribute to the country – a collaboration between the SSO and one of Singapore’s most popular singers, Benjamin Kheng – in a music video that chronicles the big milestones in the SSO’s journey with the country over the past four decades, keeping spirits up through music.
Watch the music video here.
INTIMATE MOMENTS: ZHANG SI JING & FRIENDS (ONLINE)
Supported by Lianhe Zaobao
Premiered on 12 September 2020
By popular demand, SSO violinist Zhang Si Jing returned with another Intimate Moments recital, co-hosting the chamber-scale virtual affair in Mandarin with journalist Zhang Heyang at the Victoria Concert Hall.
HAYDN’S EMPEROR AND TCHAIKOVSKY’S FLORENCE
Live audience pilot at Victoria Concert Hall, 8 October 2020
As part of the National Arts Council’s live audience pilot initiative, we welcomed our first live audience since March 2020. 50 music lovers brought warmth and life back to the Victoria Concert Hall to enjoy a recital of chamber music by Haydn and Tchaikovsky, performed by SSO musicians.
SSO IN YOUR COMMUNITY: A LITTLE EVENING MUSIC
Live at the Festive Arts Theatre, Our Tampines Hub, 22 November 2020
The SSO held its first live community concert at Our Tampines Hub (OTH) as part of the SSO In Your Community concert series. This marked the first SSO community concert performance since 15 March 2020, the day SSO dedicated a concert to frontline workers at Gardens by the Bay.
MIRACLE OF MUSIC - CELEBRATING BACH II
Live at the Victoria Concert Hall, 4 December 2020
Audiences returned to the Victoria Concert Hall for small-scale live performances of two of Bach’s violin concertos, performed by SSO veteran violinists Chan Yoong-Han and Kong Zhao Hui.
SSO CHRISTMAS FUNDRAISING CONCERT
Live at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 15 & 16 December 2020
The SSO returned to the Esplanade Concert Hall for the first time since 5 March 2020 for the first ever SSO Christmas Fundraising Concert, heralding the holiday season through musical peace and joy with an audience of 400 on each night. The concert was a welcome hour of contemplation, peace, and joy, to mark the holiday season.
SSO CHRISTMAS CONCERT (ONLINE)
Premiered on SISTIC Live, 18 December 2020
In addition to the SSO live Christmas Concerts, this digital version was recorded for audiences who would not be able to attend in person. Hosted by Singapore Symphony Principal Cello Ng Pei-Sian, this digital concert also includes virtual performances by the Singapore Symphony Choruses, who have not been able to rehearse or perform live as an ensemble due to current restrictions.
Tickets to the online concert still available here.
As the SSO struggled in the past months to stay true to its mission of creating memorable experiences for you, the orchestra is grateful for the unflagging support you have shown us since the beginning of the pandemic.
Thank you for helping the SSO play on.
As the New Year approaches us with hopes anew, we wish you a wonderful year ahead. Happy New Year!