Bravissimo! October 2022

A Growing League of Musicians

President’s Young Performers 2022: Quek Jun Rui, Pualina Lim and Evangeline Ng. (L-R)

Since 1995, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra has been showcasing young musicians at the annual President’s Young Performers (PYP) Concert that provides a platform for the local young talents to share the stage with the national orchestra.

The most recent run in August at the Victoria Concert Hall showcased three gifted musicians that promised a bright future for Singapore’s music scene. Concertgoers were presented performances by National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) Medal for Outstanding Achievement Award recipient pianist-composer Pualina Lim, former Singapore National Youth Orchestra Principal Oboe Quek Jun Rui, and New York-based Evangeline Ng, an award-winning soprano. They performed as soloists with the SSO in separate works, witnessed by President Halimah Yacob, who graced the concert on the first night.

Bravissimo sat down with our young performers to find out more about their music journey.

What got you into music? What made you join the recent competition?

Pualina: I started piano lessons at four years old and have fallen in love with it ever since! The PYP was a competition that was widely talked about. I also had friends and teachers who were previous PYP winners.

Jun Rui: I found out about PYP through social media and word of mouth, and decided to send in an application. Interestingly, my first instrument was the flute. I started learning oboe at 10.

Evangeline: Having been trained in ballet and acting, I wished to join the dance troupe in secondary school. I, unfortunately, hurt my back just a day before the auditions and ended up with something I had never considered, the choir! My first voice teacher, Akiko Otao, introduced opera and classical singing to me when I was 16. PYP has always been an exciting topic and celebrated goal among Singaporean musicians. My friends who were PYP winners from previous years encouraged me to apply.

If there is a piece that can represent who you are, what would that be?

Pualina: I love improvising, and the music I create evolves with whatever I feel. It results in a unique creation that represents me at the very moment.

Jun Rui: Barber Violin Concerto is easily my favourite. I am especially fond of its beautiful melody lines in the first two movements, specifically, the oboe solo in the second movement. The third movement gets me excited when I play or listen to it!

Evangeline: French is my favourite language to sing in, and I love French opera. Manon by Massenet is one of my favourite works, with the character growing up and going through life developments. Together with the glorious music, it feels absolutely wonderful to sing!

Share an unexpected passion you have outside of music.

Pualina: I love sushi!

Jun Rui: I am an avid console gamer and a huge fan of Halo games! Due to school commitments, I hardly have the time to enjoy them.

Evangeline: I own an opera-themed bubble tea store in New York City. Having lived in Taiwan for many years, I often joke that bubble tea is in my blood. I started Teavva (tea + diva) during the pandemic, and it has become one of my greatest joys outside of performing!

Share your takeaways from PYP 2022.

Pualina: I am extremely grateful for this opportunity with the SSO. The chance for one to perform as a concerto soloist with an orchestra is hard to come by in Singapore, and I enjoyed the process, from the audition rounds to the rehearsals and concert nights. The experience has helped me grow musically and as a person, and I was also fortunate to have worked with Maestro Rodolfo Barráez, who shared the same musical ideas as I did. If you are auditioning, be sure to enjoy the process and always be on a quest to be a better artist!

Jun Rui: My first oboe teacher, Simon Lee, encouraged me to audition for PYP. Competitions are usually daunting, but my experience was a surprisingly fun one. I hope to be remembered for the contrast I can bring through the themes and variations in my performance. For someone thinking of auditioning, think of it as a showcase instead of a competition!

Evangeline: It was wonderful singing with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and I am incredibly thankful for the supportive environment. I felt engulfed by a giant wave of warmth every time I was on stage, and I remember being in awe of this entire experience. For someone considering participating in PYP, I would say do it. Find a piece that you love and want to show the world. PYP has turned out to be one of the most memorable music-making experiences of my life. You have nothing to lose!

Applications to the President’s Young Performers 2023 are now open. Auditions will be held for shortlisted Singaporean instrumentalists performing concertos written for their instrument and Singaporean vocalists performing vocal works with the orchestra.

Successful candidates will perform as soloists in a concerto or equivalent with the SSO in 2023.

Help us shine a spotlight on young talented musicians today!

Share this story: