Published on 11 January 2017
The Singapore Symphony Orchestra announced on 11 January 2017 that Lan Shui would be stepping down as Music Director. His farewell concert will be the SSO 40th Anniversary Concert in January 2019. In a personal announcement to members of the orchestra, he said that with the birth of his second son in June 2016 in Singapore, he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two children.
Lan Shui said, "I feel extremely lucky to be associated with an amazing organization like the SSO. In the last 20 years we have grown so much together and today the SSO is in a good place. There is excellent teamwork between the board, orchestra and management. I am proud to have given my best years to the orchestra, and the SSO family will always have a special place in my heart.”
Shui first conducted the SSO as guest conductor in 1993. Since 1997 when he took over from the SSO's Founding Music Director Choo Hoey, who himself held the position for 18 years, Shui has built the orchestra into one of the best orchestras in Asia. Under his leadership, the SSO has commissioned 61 new works by Singaporean composers, and Shui personally premiered 27 of them. This Friday at the Esplanade Concert Hall, he will reprise the Beethoven programme that he conducted in January 1997, when he first took on the Music Directorship.
Shui’s achievements can be neatly captured in two comments from international reviewers over the years. The American Record Guide said, "One cannot avoid comparing what Shui has achieved in Singapore with what George Szell did in Cleveland or Simon Rattle in Birmingham. He has turned a good regional orchestra into a world-class ensemble." The London Spectator asked, "Could this be one of the great orchestras of the 21st century?”
Lan Shui was concurrently Chief Conductor of the Copenhagen Philharmonic from 2007 to 2015, and recently concluded a five-year period as Artistic Advisor of the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. Born in Hangzhou, China, Lan Shui has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (now merged with the SWR Sinfonieorkester), Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestre National de Lille. In Asia he has conducted the Hong Kong, Malaysian and Japan Philharmonic Orchestras and maintains a close relationship with the China Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony.
Singapore Symphonia Company Limited Board Chairman Mr Goh Yew Lin said, "We owe Lan a great debt of thanks. Over the past twenty years, he has patiently built the SSO into one of Asia’s finest. He knew from the start what he wanted to achieve, and he could be incredibly tenacious on matters of principle and standards; but he also remained throughout a thoughtful, caring and inspiring leader. I am saddened by Lan’s decision to leave, but I also look forward to the new possibilities that will open up as we begin the search for a worthy successor."
Chief Executive Officer Chng Hak-Peng commented, "The orchestra is extremely grateful to Lan Shui for his dedication to the orchestra over the past twenty years. Many of the orchestra's fans have grown up with Lan at the helm, and he has also inspired young musicians in Singapore through his work at the Conservatory and with community orchestras. Singapore, the SSO and Lan Shui have built a wonderful relationship over many years, and we look forward to his regular return as a guest conductor."
The orchestra’s board will appoint a committee to oversee the search for a new music director, a process that is expected to take up to three years. During this time, more guest conductors will be invited to work with the orchestra, and artistic planning will be overseen by the CEO after Shui steps down.