Being a conductor, teacher and performer is such a creative field, how did you get into it?
I started playing the violin at the age of three. Considering the amount of time that I spent on music, it naturally became a part of my life. Eventually, I just want to succeed in what I know best, and make this path a fulfilling one.
What are some of the training/professional qualifications that were required of you?
Like every other kid who learns how to play an instrument in Singapore, I took the examinations from two of the main boards. I attained a diploma in violin performance during my junior college education, where I was exposed to more performing opportunities. Gradually, I started to believe that the passion you have while performing on stage supersedes any other qualification. Without the passion to play, the audience will not enjoy your performance either.
A career in music is very broad, why did you choose the weddings industry over the others?
Music is something that we use to express ourselves, and I would like couples to experience this wonderful effect as well. It is an absolute joy to see guests indulge in the moment that we have created through our musicians with the couples.
With music trends constantly changing, how often do you change your repertoire to appeal to wedding couples?
Certain people might think that musicians no longer need any practice once they have reached a certain level of competency. I would always share with my students that our bodies are equivalent to the bodies of athletes — in order to keep our muscles fit and minds going, we have to train ourselves constantly as well. We have to practice continuously, hone our skills and keep up with the latest music trends to meet the expectations of our audiences.
Name 3 things that make a good entertainer.
Firstly, you have to have the passion for the music you perform. If you are not able to convince yourself, how else would you be able to convince the audience that your music is worth listening to? Secondly, you need to know your music well. That is the only way to free yourself so that you can “be the music”. Once focused, you will be able to see more room for improvement and creativity for your performance. Lastly — and most importantly, enjoy yourself on stage.
You have such an illustrious background and education in music, having studied conducting under Maestra Wang Ya-Hui and Larry Rachleff (Rice University), Donald Schleicher (University of Illinois) and Maestro Makand Thakar (professor of Graduate Conducting at Peabody Conservatory). Would you say these are key elements of pursuing longevity in the career of music and entertainment?
When you study under so many experienced and influential musicians, you are naturally exposed to an infinite amount of possibilities, in terms of the ways of interacting with music. You get to learn from people who achieved a vast amount of knowledge over the years of their wonderful careers. As you learn about their lifetime of work — which you will probably not be able to experience at your age — you would gain so much from their sharing and gradually become a better musician.
Throughout your long career in music, what is the most memorable performance for you?
Every performance is a learning experience for me. It is about creating an infinite amount of possibilities on stage, and having the ability to react to every moment. One of the most memorable ones would be the countdown performance with VOX in 2015, where we performed to a crowd of 30, 000. With the fireworks in the background as we performed, the feeling was incredible and definitely memorable.
Are there any weddings that were memorable for you?
Weddings are all special and one-of-a-kind on its own. Whether it is an elaborated and extensive celebration or a simple blissful ceremony, it always feels great to be a part of it. After so many years, I can still remember every wedding I’ve performed for. Especially for wedding performances, I can feel the happiness of the bride and groom, as well as their friends and relatives. It’s also one of the reasons why I choose to do wedding performances — being able to feel true happiness on top of making music that I enjoy.
What led you to form VOX, Singapore’s first pop rock quartet?
At Vocalise, I am always looking for possibilities to create new sounds for the audiences, because I feel that each event is important and should be unique. Back then, Vox’s genre was hardly tried out in the local music scene, and finding new directions in the music scene here is something that I am always open to. I then tried bridging the two genres — classical and pop/rock arena — because who says that a classically-trained musician does not enjoy pop/rock music? Why not blend the genres and create music that two different groups of audiences can enjoy?
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