Setting up a symphony orchestra is not an easy task. It is easy to round a group of interested players but maintaining anÂ orchestra that will last is an incredibly arduous task -Â The formality of auditions are needed to recruit new players, you need to find a place to rehearse and play, the quality of players has to be ensured through tempering, and the right conductorÂ needs to be chosen to represent the orchestra. We only see the tip of the iceberg over the amount of work that the management of an orchestra does, but to these players and organizers, the responsibility to deliver good music and uphold their orchestra’s reputation can weigh quite heavily at times.
We have listed the top tiered orchestras in Singapore who have had great successes over the years. These orchestras are worth applauding for their hard work and dedication towards Singapore’s musical heritage.
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Founded:Â in 1979Â byÂ Dr. Goh Keng Swee and Choo Hoey
Performing Home:Â Esplanade Concert Hall / Victoria Concert Hall
Mission Statement:Â The SSO’s goal is to “enrich the local cultural scene, serving as a bridge between the musical traditions of Asia and the West, and providing artistic inspiration, entertainment and education.”
The SSO is one of Asia’s leading orchestras. The orchestra hasÂ 96 professional full-time players andÂ performs over 50 symphonic programmes every year. The group provides musical and artistic inspiration through touring widely (in United States, Europe, and in Asia), recording with the label BIS, providing education and outreach to populations who might not have access to music literacy, performing chamber music, and through a 30-programme subscription series.Â TheirÂ multifacetedÂ skills and haveÂ enabled them to adapt to a wide range of music spanning from orchestral masterpieces to popular show-tunes.
Claim to Fame:
- Notable performances at the Berlin Philharmonic, New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, Beijing’s Poly Theatre, and The Proms in London.
- Performed with world renowned soloist consisting of Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Hough, Emmanuel Ax, Sarah Chang, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Kiri Te Kanawa, Luciaino Pavarotti and many more…
NUS Symphony Orchestra
Founded: inÂ 1979Â byÂ Mr Paul Abisheganaden under the countenance ofÂ the former University of Singapore
Performing Home:Â On Campus at the National University of Singapore (NUS)
Mission Statement: Although the musicians are diverse in their course of study, the aimÂ is to buildÂ unificationÂ in their common love for music.
The NUS Symphony Orchestra is home to about 90 members, consisting of undergraduates, friends and alumni. The orchestra offers their students an opportunity to be a part of the groupÂ even if they are not majoring in a music discipline.Â The NUS Symphony Orchestra has performed extensively overseas and are pursuing a very high standard of music. They occasionally rehearse with guest conductors and collaborates with choirs and renowned musicians. Some of these distinguished figures include alphorn soloist Jozsef Molnar, and local musicians Dennis lee, and Tan Peng Tow. Aside from in-campus activities, the NUS Symphony Orchestra also actively contributes toÂ the local communityÂ by performing at publicÂ venues such as shopping malls, conferences, art festivals and iconic places such as the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Claim to Fame:Â
- The first group from Singapore selected to perform at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Scotland (1998) and (2005)
- Represented Singapore in the Summa Cum Laude (SCL) International Youth Music FestivalÂ in Vienna and won first runner-up in the Orchestra category.
Founded: in 1998 by Maestro Lim Yau
Mission Statement: The Orchestra “aims to flourish as both a performing entity and a meeting point for dedicated musicians – and – to invigorate Singapore’s orchestra scene for years to come.”
The Philharmonic Orchestra (Singapore) – formerly known as Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra –Â has gradually developed and become one of the flagship symphony orchestras in Singapore. ItÂ comprises of young adults who are keen in being a part of an ensemble and are willing to undergo training and practice to fulfill their musical passions. Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay have been engaging The Philharmonic Orchestra during many occasions because of their good standing in the local classical industry.
Claim to Fame:
- The orchestra was engaged by the National Arts Council as the accompanying orchestra for the concerto section at the National Music Competition. (2001 & 2003)
- In its 2007 – 2008 season, the orchestra became the first in Singapore to perform the complete symphonic cycle of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in its Northern Exposure project.
- Featured as the â€œliveâ€ orchestra in Richard Einhornâ€™s Voices of Light (2003)Â and were theÂ music set to the 1928 silent film, Joan of Arc.
- The Philharmonic Orchestra was theÂ accompanying orchestra for K.D. Langâ€™s concert in 2005, Omara Portuondo in 2005, and Aska Symphonic Concert Tour in 2008.
Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra
Founded:Â in 1986
Mission Statement:Â Bring joy and cohesion to the community through music.
Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra comprises of musicians from all different levels. It currently houses around 80 members. Aside from their goal of bringing classical music to the local community, the orchestra also strongly supports the development of young music proteges through its “Gifted Young Musicians” programme. The orchestra made it possible for many young budding musicians to debut on stage and have a taste of performing with an orchestra.
Claim to Fame:
- Took center stage at National events such as Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong’s Inauguration Dinner, and the People’s Association’s 40th Anniversary (2000).
- Took part in musical exchanges with theÂ Korea Symphony Orchestra, the Sunigami Philharmonic Orchestra (Japan) and the Penang Symphony Orchestra (Malaysia).
Orchestra of Music Makers
Founded: in 2008Â
Mission Statement: Pursing the passion of the shared love of music!Â
Orchestra of Music Makers is a fairlyÂ newlyÂ established orchestraÂ comprising of classically trained players from all walks of life. They are a volunteer orchestra consisting of musicians who are passionate about practicing and performing in an ensemble.Â The orchestra might not have had a long history, but since their establishment in 2008,Â they haveÂ grown from a small ensemble into an internationally recognized full fledged symphony orchestra. Music Director Chan Tze Law has done an outstandingÂ job in training the members of the orchestra because within a few short years, the Orchestra of Music Makers have made their mark in the classical music scene. The orchestra houses 140 musicians who are dedicated to their musical goals despite having separate academic or professional commitments. Orchestra of Music Makers have alsoÂ released live performance recordings and they wereÂ featured on platforms such as KrisWorld in-flight classical music selection on Singapore Airlines.
Claim to Fame:
- Honored with the HSBC Youth Excellence Award for Musical Excellence (2009)
- Became a recipient of the National Arts Council’s Seed Grant
- Reviewed positively inÂ notable publications such as Gramophone (UK), Mostly Classic (Japan), the American Record Guide (USA) and Fanfare (USA) through its Mahler 2nd Symphony performances.
- PlayedÂ alongside the worldâ€™s finest at the Cheltenham Music Festival and Lichfield Festival in the UK.