75 minutes, 15 minutes intermission
Please be seated at least 15 minutes before the programme begins.
Kaleidoscope is a celebration of the vibrancy of NUS Guitar Ensemble’s (GENUS) musical culture and the colourful repertoire it has performed since its inception. From arrangements of iconic Baroque period works to light-hearted Japanese pieces composed specifically for Niibori ensemble, this year’s repertoire draws from Japanese, Spanish and Western classical music genres and will introduce the audience to the roots of GENUS’ musical identity.
Dr Robert Casteels
NUS Guitar Ensemble
Dr Robert Casteels
Music Director & Resident Conductor
Composer, conductor, pianist, educator and arts administrator, Dr Robert Casteels believes that these activities form an intertwined and kaleidoscopic part of music making.
Robert has conducted 50 professional orchestras in 20 countries, with a repertoire of 600 works ranging from the early classics to contemporary music. He has conducted premieres of symphonic works and operas in major festivals in Europe, the USA and Australia. After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music of London and the Juilliard School in New York, Robert was appointed staff conductor at the Brussels Royal Opera House and Head of Conducting Studies at the Brussels (Flemish) Royal Music Conservatory. At the Conservatory he also set up an opera studio that was a great success at bridging the gap between tertiary-level training and professional life. As Artistic Director of ‘Sounds of an Ignored Landscape’, a Belgian commercial production company, Robert conceptualised, raised seed capital and conducted chamber operas, which were broadcasted on national television. In 2001 he was awarded the Christoffel Plantin prize, Flanders’ highest cultural award, for his cross-cultural research.
Robert took up permanent residency in Singapore in 1996 and citizenship in 2007. He has contributed tirelessly to Singapore’s music scene, as a member of various arts related committees, as Dean of the Faculty of Performing Arts at LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, as Music Director of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra and as Artistic Director of ‘I’mPULSE’, Asia-Europe Foundation’s first music camp held in The Philippines. Robert has premiered significant masterpieces in Singapore, such as works by Boulez, Ligeti, Takemitsu, Stockhausen and Varèse.
In April 2004, Robert was appointed the first Associate-in-Residence (Special Music Projects) by the NUS Centre For the Arts. Additionally, Robert has produced several special projects such as a film-cum-concert festival, The Magic of Music in Movies in 2004, Music and Architecture in 2006, Food, Plants and Music at The Arts House and Petronas Galeri in Kuala Lumpur in 2007, and Bird Songs for the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ 150th anniversary in 2009.
A composer in his own right, Robert has written a growing corpus of 100 musical works that cross several cultures, genres and disciplines. His compositions have been premiered in Australia, Belgium, China, England, Indonesia, Korea and The Netherlands. Robert has been commissioned by important institutions in Singapore, such as The Arts House at The Old Parliament, Asian Civilisation Museum Empress Place, Alliance Française de Singapour, Singapore Arts Festival, the City Garden Fund, the Contemporary Asian Arts Centre, the Institute of Policy Studies, LASALLE-SIA, the Ministry of Education, NUS and WASBE.
NUS Guitar Ensemble
Founded by Cultural Medallion winner Mr Alex Abisheganaden and currently under the guidance of music director and conductor Dr Robert Casteels, the NUS Guitar Ensemble (GENUS) is the region's first Niibori guitar ensemble, and boasts a wide repertoire ranging from major classical works to Japanese anime songs.
A fingerstyle group unique in its exploration of varying shades and tonalities through their set of Niibori guitars of varying pitches, the ensemble comprises 50 members who play differently pitched guitars to achieve an orchestra effect, with percussion added in to complete the audience experience.
GENUS aims to set a benchmark for local guitar ensembles while promoting a love for guitar ensemble music in Singapore. In order to improve itself both musically and technically, GENUS regularly participates in local and international competitions, and members often get the chance to attend masterclasses.