Singaporean musician Leonard Tan enjoys a rare career as a prolific conductor and internationally-known scholar in music education. He is Assistant Professor of Music at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, and Principal Conductor of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra. Under his artistic and educational leadership, the orchestra benefits from a Comprehensive Musicianship approach to orchestral curriculum, and has been praised for performances of “rare blazing intensity.”
Tan earned his doctoral degree from the world renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied orchestral conducting with David Effron, Arthur Fagen and Murray Sidlin, and participated in seminars by Leonard Slatkin, Cliff Colnot and William Jon Gray. At the Jacobs School of Music, he conducted the Indiana University Symphony Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, University Orchestra and Conductor’s Orchestra in masterpieces by composers such as Brahms, Bartók, Beethoven, and Mahler. Additional conducting studies were through masterclasses with Leif Segerstam and Alexander Polischuk in Russia, where he worked with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, and with Johannes Schlaefli, where he conducted Academic Orchestra Zurich.
Performances under Tan’s direction have been lauded by local and international critics. Singapore’s The Straits Times described his performance of Corigliano’s Symphony No. 3 as “masterfully helmed,” while the American press lauded his “artful conducting.” He made his conducting debut with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra at a SSO Children’s Concert, worked with artists such as the Boston Brass, and conducted performances at Vienna’s Golden Hall of the Musikverein, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and Sydney Opera House. He also guest conducted at the Indiana University Summer Music Festival. As tuba player, he has performed professionally with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and numerous other orchestras.
Tan’s conducting repertoire spans the entire gamut from the Renaissance to new music by living composers, music by Singaporean composers, and includes works such as Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat. As music director of the Philharmonic Winds, he introduced several important works for wind orchestra to the audience in Singapore. In demand internationally as a conductor, pedagogue, and scholar, he has guest conducted, adjudicated, and lectured in several universities and festivals internationally. He actively contributes to knowledge through cutting-edge research in music education, and has published his scholarly writings in numerous top-tier peer-reviewed journals, such as Journal of Research in Music Education and Psychology of Music. He has been invited to serve on the Editorial Boards of prestigious journals such as Philosophy of Music Education Review and Music Educators Journal, and has been awarded book contracts by Oxford University Press and Indiana University Press.
With his unique performance, education and scholarly background–possibly the first of its kind in the world–Tan designs his orchestral programme for the Singapore National Youth Orchestra with a vision to raise a new generation of passionate and well-rounded musicians. An alumnus of SNYO, he has served the orchestra for more than ten years in numerous capacities, including instrumental tutor, sectional tutor, conductor of the SNYS, associate conductor, and principal conductor of the SNYO. He loves the SNYO and cherishes every rehearsal and performance moment with the young, talented musicians.