Bravissimo! January 2019

40 Years of Great Music

Prime Minister Lee came on stage to cut the birthday cake, as the orchestra broke into a birthday tune. Joining him were (L-R) SSO founding member and violinist Lynnette Seah, Music Director Lan Shui, Chairman Goh Yew Lin and CEO Chng Hak-Peng.

On 18 January, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong joined a full hall of concertgoers at the Esplanade to celebrate SSO turning 40. The gala performance reprised parts of SSO’s inaugural concerts in 1979 held at the Singapore Conference Hall: Ives’ The Unanswered Question and Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto, this time performed by Singaporean pianist Lim Yan.

Forty years on, the SSO is a fixture in our cultural firmament. When it performs to standing ovations and critical acclaim in major venues like the BBC Proms, the Berlin Philharmonie and the Prague Spring Festival, it is cause for pride and celebration. The SSO continues to bring joy to Singaporeans from all walks of life, making sure that its music is not just enjoyed by a select few.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his message for SSO's 40th anniversary gala

Paying homage to Singapore, the orchestra also performed Dayong Sampan Overture by late Singaporean composer Leong Yoon Pin.

After the concert, Prime Minister Lee posted about the event, congratulating the orchestra:


For this anniversary, we’ve committed to raising $400,000 to fund the orchestra’s work. And we need your help to get us there. To date, we’ve raised $340,000. We appeal to everyone who’s been a part of the SSO experience to make a special gift on the occasion of our 40th birthday.

Your donations help give less well-off  students  and other  underserved communities  the chance to come to our concerts for free, or on discounted tickets. Your contributions also help to fund the needs of the orchestra, from the replacement of instruments, to hiring the Esplanade for our rehearsals and concerts.

You can donate on the SSO website or at


To mark the 40th milestone, we are also sharing a special website – with a historical timeline, stories and photos covering the four decades of the SSO, since the days of Maestro Choo Hoey to our recent National Day concert.

The site also shows warm messages we received from artistes and collaborators from near and far, including Yo-Yo Ma and Gustavo Dudamel on video, wishing the orchestra a happy 40th.


  • SSO musicians and sisters Karen and Elaine Yeo chat about learning music as children and their time in the youth orchestra at the old Victoria Concert Hall.
  • News feature on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attending SSO's 40th anniversary gala.
  • Interview with three of SSO's youngest musicians, Wang Zihao, Chikao Sasaki and Lau Wenrong.
  • Longtime SSO patrons share their memories of our national orchestra and about “saving Fridays for SSO” (in Chinese).

To our loving concertgoers and supporters, from all of us at SSO, thank you for celebrating this special year with us!

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