Interview: Zechariah Goh (Singapore Saxophone Symposium 2015)

We had the opportunity to swing by the Singapore Saxophone Symposium 2015 and was honoured to have Artistic Director, Dr Zechariah Goh, grace us with a short interview session about the SSS15. Dr Goh is an advocate for fusing South East Asian-Chinese with Western traditional music. He is a senior composition lecturer at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

M: Could you tell us about yourself?
Z:  I’m a composition lecturer at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. I play the saxophone and piano.

M: How long have you been playing?
Z: More than 20 – 30 years.

M: What is the Singapore Saxophone Symposium (SSS)?
Z: SSS is running for its 5th year. The idea is to get students involved and introduce them to different performances from around the world. We have 14 artistes from around the world; Belgium, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, USA. There are masterclasses for participants to attend and they will get to learn from the professors from universities such as Eastman School of Music (New York).

M: Why did you start the Singapore Saxophone Symposium?
Z: In Singapore, there isn’t a good foundation for classical saxophone training. By doing this, we are exposing our students to what classical saxophone performance is like and they get a chance to learn from the best. We are hoping they will get more interested and want to learn more from the artistes.

M: With regards to activities, how different is it this year compared to previous years?
Z: This year, we have the biggest participation from Singapore. The symposium is opened to overseas participants and we’ve had more recommendations from past participants who found the symposium beneficial. It gets better each year, we’ve also seen an increase in audience numbers. We have a composition workshop; writing for saxophone. We’ve had 4 Korean students who flew here as well as 8 Singaporean students who took part in the workshop. They learned to compose for saxophone and had consultations with the professional saxophonists. At the end of it, there was also a recording of the pieces they composed.

We also have a new Jazz Improv session this year where participants get to improvise with a jazz group and perform some jazz pieces together.

M: What’s your favourite part of the symposium?
Z: The entire symposium! The highlight will definitely be the Gala Concert.

M: Which is the hardest part of planning the Symposium?
Z: The finance is the hardest part. We had to get sponsorship, participants to sign up to balance the accounts.

M: As the Artistic Director, where do you see the Symposium in 5-10 years time?
Z: I decided to do 10 years of this. I haven’t got plans beyond that at the moment. It’ll be great if someone takes over there-onwards. This is already the 5th year.

M: A word of advice to young saxophonist?
Z: Join our symposium, get to know about saxophone music and network with other like-minded saxophonist! Join our exciting pre and post symposium events too! We have regular workshops and masterclasses, it doesn’t stop here.


For more information on the Singapore Saxophone Symposium:

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