Bravissimo! September 2020

A Gift of Music for the Singapore National Youth Orchestra

For a young musician, the opportunity to play on fine quality musical instruments is a powerful emotional and physical experience. This opportunity provides an exceptional boost of confidence to the young player – that entrusting them with the instrument underscores a belief in their ability and potential.

The Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO) nurtures Singapore’s top orchestral talent and aims to take their love for music to greater heights. One of the schemes offered by the SNYO provides loans of high quality instruments to its members who otherwise would not have the means to purchase good quality instruments and progress in their musical pursuits.

This month, the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO) received a generous and deeply meaningful gift from Ms Vivien Goh, who was the Singapore Youth Orchestra’s (SYO) first Music Director. The SYO was renamed SNYO in 2001, and came under management of the SSG in 2016.

Ms Goh’s gift of a new bassoon for SNYO’s free instrument loan programme was made in memory of her late sister, Mrs Patricia Wei (née Goh), who was the SNYO’s first bassoon tutor. They are two of three daughters of the late Mr Goh Soon Tioe, a pioneering violinist, music teacher and impresario who played a key role in the development of classical music in Singapore.

Ms Goh was the Music Director and Resident Conductor of the SYO from 1980 to 1990. In her 10 years with the SYO, Ms Goh made an impact on young musicians, nurturing a generation of professional musicians who not only seeded the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) but also went on to teach the next generation of budding musicians as well. For her contributions to Singapore’s classical music scene, Ms Goh was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Music in 1983.

When asked about her fondest memories of her time with SYO, Ms Goh said, “Coming into contact with so many young musicians with their unique personalities, I am proud that those who became professional musicians have since contributed so much to the music scene in Singapore. Though the purpose of setting up the SYO in 1980 was to train musicians to play in the SSO, our former members have gone well beyond the SSO into directing school bands and other music programmes in the schools as well as setting up their own private studios. Some have even joined prestigious orchestras and educational institutions all over the world. The reach is enormous!”

I understood from the management that some instruments in the Orchestra have been there since the 1980s and I agreed that, after 40 years…it was high time that new instruments should be purchased! Also, since the need was in the bassoon section, it fitted perfectly with my intention to make a meaningful gift in memory of my sister Patricia Wei (née Goh) who played a very active role in the SYO in the early days, not only as bassoon teacher, wind sectional coach, but as the organizer of our first SYO camp in 1981 as well. In her role as a columnist with the Business Times, she also gave wide coverage to the work of SYO.

Ms Vivien Goh on the significance of her gift to the SNYO

The gift presentation ceremony was held on Wednesday 2 September 2020 at the SNYO Studios, in accordance with safe management measures. Ms Goh attended the ceremony with her nephew Mr Jordan Wei, son of the late Mrs Patricia Wei and former bassoon player with the SNYO. Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Symphony Group, Mr Chng Hak-Peng, and Head of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, Ms Pang Siu Yuin, both alumni of the SYO, were also present at the ceremony.

Indeed, I hope that this gift will set others thinking of using this as a channel either to give a memorial gift, or for alumni to join together and give an instrument to mark their happy teenage years in the orchestra.

Ms Vivien Goh

The recipient of this gifted bassoon is Jove Fong Yi Liang, a Year 5 student at Raffles Institution. Jove joined the SNYO in October 2015, initially auditioning on the trumpet, which he had picked up in primary school. Jove has since progressed from a new learner on the bassoon to the section’s Principal. He says, “The instrument loan scheme has given me with a precious opportunity to have long-term use of a bassoon. Good bassoons, even second-hand ones, are very costly. The scheme also allowed me to start my lessons immediately with my teacher without worrying about where and how to get a bassoon. This allowed me to focus fully on lessons and develop my bassoon playing.”

Jove was delighted to have the privilege to be the first youth orchestra member to be playing on the gifted bassoon.

The instrument loan programme is beneficial for all players, especially for wind players who are just starting off in orchestra. I am also really thankful for the opportunity to be able to play on this bassoon gifted by Ms Goh to SNYO.

Jove Fong Yi Liang

The Singapore Symphony Group (SSG) would like to thank Ms Goh for the generous gift and all the donors who have not only contributed their financial support but have also gifted fine instruments to the orchestra.

For readers who are interested to extend a gift of an instrument to the SNYO, please contact Ms Pang Siu Yuin at snyo@sso.org.sg.

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