A Year in Review: 2021
2021 has been a year of continued fight against COVID-19 and embracing new norms, fresh experiences and milestones to celebrate for a young orchestra like ours.
We look back at key moments of the Singapore Symphony Group.
FIRST LIVE CONCERT WITH SSO CHIEF CONDUCTOR
Chief Conductor Hans Graf made his first appearance in front of a live audience in January, joining the orchestra to conduct Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 (“Linz”) alongside the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with soloist Albert Tiu in To Vienna and Linz with Mozart at the Esplanade Concert Hall.
LIGHT TO NIGHT 2021
Light projections decorated the facade of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall from 22 to 31 January, as part of the popular Light to Night Festival.
Each year, we leverage on the festival to showcase local community chamber groups at VCH, as part of our mission of enriching the community through music. Many arts groups performed live for the first time in months.
The programme by VCHpresents offered a hybrid of live and digital events, a first for the festival.
NEW SSO APP
As part of our digital transformation, we were excited to announce the new Singapore Symphony Mobile App, to add to the concert experience of our valued patrons. Available free for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play stores, the interactive application is a platform for participation, allowing us to deepen the engagement with our audience.
SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL PIANO FESTIVAL 2021
The Singapore International Piano Festival returned in its 27th edition in a live format on 3 to 6 June, after its cancellation last year due to COVID-19. The festival featured Singapore-based pianists performing solo recitals to a limited audience capacity in Victoria Concert Hall over four evenings.
The Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) have renewed an existing Memorandum of Understanding to help both orchestras to work together in innovative ways, such as leveraging on digital means to jointly perform and foster cultural exchange despite the pandemic.
Through a friendship that defies barriers, MSO and SSO collaborated on a production featuring both orchestras, conducted by Brett Kelly in Melbourne and Joshua Tan in Singapore. This project is proudly supported by the AusGov Office for the Arts, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and National Arts Council Singapore.
We are excited to produce another cross-border digital production between the two orchestras. Even if the pandemic prevents any live interactions, this digital collaboration is the two orchestras’ way of staying connected with each other and with our audiences.
AUGUST IN FULL SWING
The SSO marked the 20th anniversary of the National Day classic, Where I Belong, in collaboration with its original singer/songwriter, Tanya Chua. The new arrangement by our very own SSO Librarian, Avik Chari, featured vocalists, choir, solo violin and the orchestra .
The music video featured iconic landmarks and scenic views of our home, where we belong.
PRESIDENT’S YOUNG PERFORMERS CONCERT 2021
The annual showcase of Singapore’s finest young musical talents returned with rising star, harpist Charmaine Teo. The Masters graduate from New England Conservatory, Boston had the incredible opportunity to perform with the SSO.
The annual concert shines a spotlight on instrumentalists in Singapore and provides the stage to perform as soloist.
SSO NATIONAL DAY CONCERT
Our online audience enjoyed beloved classics and new works by Singapore’s growing league of talented composers, as we celebrated Singapore once more at the annual SSO National Day Concert. Made possible by the people of Singapore through crowdfunding, and local brands such as DBS, Marina Bay Sands, On Cheong Jewellery, OSIM, PSA Corporation Limited, UOB and V3 Group.
SINGING THE SAME TUNE
As the only children’s choir that shares the stage with our national orchestra, the Singapore Symphony Children’s Choir (SSCC) continues to ignite passion in our young learners. During the September holidays, The SSCC Experience offered an introduction to choral music for children between 8 to 12 years old to experience a day in a life of a chorister.
As part of the Group’s digital expansion, our new streaming platform, SSOLOUNGE aims to reach more audience around the world and provide an easy way to enjoy our performances. With a greater breadth of content and enhanced viewing experience, we look forward to continue to providing memorable experiences even through digital means.
ORCHESTRA OF THE YEAR
One of the highlights of the year was SSO clinching third place in the prestigious Orchestra of the Year Award at the 2021 Gramophone Classical Music Awards, decided by the music-loving community through public votes.
SSO was among the top three orchestras alongside Minnesota Orchestra and Accademia Bizantina, and one of the 10 outstanding nominees shortlisted by Gramophone’s editors and reviewers based on the artistic excellence of their recordings.
The recognition points to an exciting chapter as the orchestra seeks to widen its appeal to the international audience, and to inspire and engage the local communities through its work.
Music has a universal power to lift spirits. This recognition and excellent ranking is an encouragement for the SSO, as we continue our work in a time greatly affected by the pandemic. We thank our supporters for voting for us, and will remain committed to continue touching lives through our music.
VOILAH! FRANCE SINGAPORE FESTIVAL 2021
In collaboration with the Embassy of France in Singapore, two delightful concerts featuring French pianist Cédric Tiberghien were held in association with the vOilah! France Singapore Festival 2021, bringing together the best of French and Singaporean talents.
NOVEMBER LIVESTREAM CONCERTS
Over 130 Singapore National Youth Orchestra and Singapore National Youth Sinfonia members performed live from the Victoria Concert Hall on 7, 23 to 26 November across six concerts streamed on Youtube. The orchestras were split into smaller ensembles to maximise performance opportunities for our youth musicians.
LONGING TO SING
Despite the COVID-19 measures that have hindered choral performances worldwide, the Singapore Symphony Chorus, Youth and Children’s Choirs embarked on a digital concert as one – Longing.
In the one-of-its-kind production enabled by technology, our choristers were positioned in separate venues while performing simultaneously, through the real-time headphone and video monitoring.
NATIONAL PIANO & VIOLIN COMPETITION
Singapore’s oldest and most prestigious music competition was made available to audiences online for the first time. Recently concluded in December, the biennial National Piano & Violin Competition (NPVC) rounds were spread across 24 sessions from four age categories for piano and violin, performed live from Victoria Concert Hall and the Esplanade. The NPVC aims to improve musical standards and performance levels of piano and violin in Singapore.
A JOLLY SSO CHRISTMAS
The SSO Christmas Fundraising Concert returned for two nights at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 16 and 17 December, a welcoming festive treat for over 800 audience members.
In addition to the live Christmas celebrations, Christmas At Home with the SSO was one to remember. Hosted by SSO Principal Harp Gulnara Mashurova, our audience enjoyed the digital concert featuring Christmas classics and crowd favourites in the comfort of their homes in this concert presented by Temasek Foundation. Tickets to the online concert are still available here!
Close to 200 beneficiaries enjoyed the concert, hosted on our streaming platform SSOLOUNGE. We were happy to see our seniors embrace digital means of concertgoing in midst of the pandemic.
It is interesting as I have never seen such large instruments! I enjoyed myself very much in this first experience with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
In our continued mission to create memorable shared experiences with music, 2021 has given us so many moments of applause and support – all of which we hold dear to our hearts. Thank you to all who have stood by us, as we reinvent and experiment with new ways to present our works. We look forward to 2022 with hopes, and faith to keep our music alive.
Happy New Year!