Bravissimo! January 2023

Warmest Greetings: A Message from Kenneth Kwok

Dear readers of Bravissimo,

It is my great privilege to be able to write this message to you as the new CEO of the Singapore Symphony Group (SSG). As someone who has loved the arts since I was a boy, and who has seen how the arts have changed and inspired young lives as a secondary school teacher and vice principal, I am immensely proud to now be leading one of Singapore’s national arts companies.

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra is an iconic institution with a very rich history, having been a leading player in the local arts and culture scene since our very first concert in 1979. We currently bring world-class musical performances to audiences in Singapore over 44 weeks a year.

One memorable orchestra experience I had was hosting an international group of arts council leaders at the SSO 40th Anniversary Gala in 2019 as Assistant Chief Executive of the National Arts Council. Knowing these esteemed guests were bearing witness to the best of what Singapore had to offer made me swell with pride.

Starting on the right note

2023 has begun with a lot of optimism.

We have the wind at our back, with recent accolades such as the SSO being named as one of the world’s best orchestras by BBC Music Magazine, along with glowing global reviews for our latest Scriabin album. We are also heartened by the return of audiences to our orchestra and choral programmes over the last few months.

I look forward to welcoming everyone to the rest of our 22/23 season which features a line-up of exciting concerts involving acclaimed international artists and Singapore’s finest talents such as conductor Kahchun Wong, composer Syafiqah ‘Adha Sallehin, guitarist Kevin Loh, and of course, our Artist-In-Residence, 16-year-old violin sensation Chloe Chua.

We are especially thrilled to be launching Chloe’s first album in March, and returning to Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Botanic Gardens for our free community concerts, which usually see audiences by the thousands.

The future starts now

I believe the arts are a crucial part of life. They celebrate expression, aspiration, imagination, creativity, beauty, curiosity, community, connection – everything that makes us so very human. With music excellence still at the core of our performing groups, the SSG will continue this year to focus on:

1) Bringing great music to everyone: Sharing our love for music with as many people as possible in Singapore and beyond through live concerts and our digital concert hall, SSOLOUNGE, remains one of the Group’s key goals.

2) Creating memorable and exciting musical experiences: We want audiences to feel welcomed and be wowed, whether you are a first-time concert-goer or a regular visitor to the Victoria Concert Hall and Esplanade. We are dedicated to providing opportunities for audiences to enjoy the classics at the highest level. At the same time, we also aspire to present musical encounters that will meet the evolving tastes and habits of today’s concertgoers, including programmes that offer new and fresh experiences, and resonate with contemporary conversations about diversity, inclusion and access.

3) Nurturing the next generation of musicians and music lovers: Our outreach and education efforts with the Ministry of Education and schools are a vital part of the Group’s mission. This includes bringing our orchestra musicians into school assembly halls, strengthening youth development efforts through the Singapore National Youth Orchestra and Singapore Symphony Youth and Children’s Choirs, and fulfilling our role as the national Associated Board of the Royals Schools of Music (ABRSM) coordinator.

In addition, we aim to work more closely with partners such as other orchestras and choruses to grow the symphonic music and choir ecosystem in Singapore beyond the company itself. Indeed, we hope to play our part in helping to uplift the national arts scene as a whole, and will continue to explore collaborations with friends in other arts disciplines such as theatre and dance.

The road ahead

The Group would not be where it is now without Music Director Hans Graf, our musicians, conductors, choirmasters and choristers. I am also blessed with an incredibly passionate and hardworking administrative team. It is also through the sustained support of our audiences, volunteers and donors that we have reached this point in our journey. I offer my sincere thanks to all who have believed in us all these years.

My dream is for everyone to not only be acquainted with the SSG, but, more importantly, to love us, be proud of us, and invest in us. I believe the Group speaks to what is possible for Singapore, and what it can achieve as a country. We hope that you will choose to be part of our national story by continuing to contribute to the SSG’s work and long-term growth.

As an arts company and a registered charity, we face unprecedented challenges due to the current economic climate. However, I know you will agree with me that our effort to bring the joy and beauty of music to people is even more necessary during these difficult times.

On that note, I want to wish all of you, our valued supporters, a Happy New Year! After the last three chaotic years, I hope for all of us to have more brightness and light, laughter and song in our lives.

See you at our next concert!

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