Variations and Variables
60-70 minutes, no intermission
Please be seated at least 15 minutes before the programme begins.
Variations and Variables celebrates the synergistic power of chamber music, creating an experience larger than the sum of its parts. Pianist Abigail Sin and violinist Loh Jun Hong join forces to explore notions of evolution and transformation in music. Every twist of fate and every turn of the kaleidoscope reveals new emotional landscapes, leading us far away from home. What is certain is that we will be forever changed by these journeys.
Featuring the mighty Chaconne for Solo Violin by J.S. Bach, Messiaen’s Theme and Variations for Violin and Piano, and selections from Beethoven’s sublime Piano Sonata in E Major Op. 109, this concert will also feature a collaboration with visual artist Yanyun Chen, who was recently presented at the President’s Young Talents 2018 exhibition at Singapore Art Museum.
This show is eligible for the Tote Board Arts Grant subsidy.
Jun Hong Loh
Singaporean pianist Abigail Sin has appeared in concert halls across the globe, including Wigmore Hall, Salle Cortot and various venues in the USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, Hong Kong and South-East Asia. She has performed with many orchestras such as the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra, Armenian State Philharmonic Orchestra, Dnepropetrovsk Phiharmonic Orchestra, Kaunas Symphony Orchestra and the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra. Abigail’s performances have been broadcast over national television and radio stations in Romania, Hong Kong, USA and Singapore. In 2009, Steinway and Sons selected Abigail to become South-East Asia’s first Young Steinway Artist.
Abigail has won a significant number of top prizes at international piano competitions. In July 2015, Abigail won the 1st prize at the Norah Sande Award and was selected for the Park Lane Group’s Diamond Jubilee concert season in the UK. Other recent accolades include 3rd Prize, the Audience Prize and the Students’ Prize at the Lagny-sur-Marne International Piano Competition in France, the Guildhall School’s Romantic Piano Prize and The McCallum Prize for a pianist of promise at the Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition.
Abigail was twice selected to participate in the prestigious Verbier Festival Academy in Switzerland. She has also attended masterclasses at IMS Prussia Cove, the Banff Centre, l’Academie Musicale de Villecroze and the Oxford Philomusica International Piano Festival. Abigail has performed in the master classes of eminent musicians such as Leon Fleisher, Menahem Pressler and Dmitri Bashkirov.
Abigail is also a keen chamber musician. As a member of the Chagall Piano Quartet, she was awarded the Guildhall School’s Ivan Sutton Chamber Music Award and was a finalist in the St Martin’s-in-the-Fields chamber music competition. Committed to developing the classical music scene in Singapore, Abigail, together with violinist Loh Jun Hong, founded a chamber music concert series called More Than Music, which has won critical acclaim for its candid, interactive presentation of classical music.
Born in 1992, Abigail completed her undergraduate studies with Prof Thomas Hecht at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore, winning the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal as the top student of the cohort. In 2012, she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she studied with Joan Havill. Abigail then returned to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and obtained a Graduate Diploma. During her studies, she worked as a music history and humanities teaching assistant at the National University of Singapore.
Abigail is a recipient of the 2014 Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship. She is currently a doctoral student under the supervision of Prof Christopher Elton and Dr Briony Cox-Williams at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Jun Hong Loh
“Poetic, soulful, assured and compelling from the first note to the last.” – Gisborne Herald
Singaporean Jun Hong Loh graduated with a Masters of Music from the Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Prof. Glenn Dicterow, Joseph Lin and Sylvia Rosenberg. In 2009, Jun Hong received his Bachelor of Music (1st class honours) from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore, where he studied with Head of Strings, Prof Qian Zhou.
An alumnus of the Verbier Festival, Switzerland, he led the festival orchestra for numerous concerts as concertmaster and associate concertmaster under the baton of Charles Dutoit, Daniel Harding, Valery Gergiev and Gianandrea Noseda. Intent on developing the scene in his home country, he is the co-Artistic Director of the Singapore International Festival of Music, where he curated the programme theme “War & Peace” for the Festival’s inaugural year in 2015. He is also the co-founder of “More than Music”, a concert series dedicated to presenting engaging and intimate concerts for audiences.
He has won numerous awards, including notably 1st Prize at Gisborne International Music Competition, 1st Prize and Audience award at the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition in Boston, 1st Prize at the Singapore National Piano and Violin Competition (Senior), 3rd Prize at the 13th Andrea Postacchini International Competition held in Fermo, Italy, 5th prize at the Canetti International Violin Competition held in Turkey, and the best Singaporean Award at the Singaporean International Violin Competition.
Jun Hong’s performance track record ranges from performances in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, to solo recitals in Washington for the WETA radio station, to showcases in Berlin, Vietnam and Indonesia, to tours in UK, France, and USA, to premieres of the violin transcriptions of Scarlatti’s Piano Sonata in Berlin by publishing company Ries & Erler.
He was featured as the rising star in the annual “Asia Rising Stars” series with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong; performed solo with the Shenzhen Grand Theatre Philharmonic Orchestra in China and in Tokyo with Maestro Oikawa. In Singapore, he was featured with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra for the 34th Anniversary Concert, President’s Young Performers Concert and the Causal Concert series; as well as the Singapore Festival Orchestra in the Esplanade Concert Hall, “Festival Fantasia”. Jun Hong has also been presented as one of Singapore’s leading musical talents in Channel News Asia’s documentary series “Asia’s Wonder Kids”.
Delving in to the film music industry, he recently recorded the violin solos for the movie “7 Letters” produced by 7 of Singapore’s top directors, and film scored by Ricky Ho, a Golden Horse Award recipient.
Adhering to his strong beliefs in giving back to the community, he performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in Kioi Hall, Tokyo, in a charity fundraiser concert for the disabled. Besides performing for various charity groups in Singapore, he also gives back to the community through education. Jun Hong has held numerous workshops and masterclasses for the younger generation in schools and youth orchestras.
He plays on a 1780 Mantegazza on generous loan to him from the Rin Collection. He thanks his former teachers Mr Michael Loh and Yap Shu Mei for their guidance in his early years in music.
Yanyun Chen (b. 1986, Singapore) is a visual artist . She runs a charcoal-based drawing practice, and her works respond to writing — fictional and philosophical — as well as aesthetic traditions and techniques. She was presented the “People’s Choice Award” for the President’s Young Talents 2018 exhibition at Singapore Art Museum.
She received her Phd with Summa Cum Laude from the European Graduate School. She is a full-time lecturer in the Arts & Humanities division of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, the founder of illustration and animation studio Piplatchka, and the managing partner of publishing house Delere Press LLP.
Flower Flights (currently exhibited at Art Porters Gallery from 7th November 2018 to 4th January 2019) is a continuation and development from her first exhibited series 追花 Chasing Flowers. The former is a collection of material experiments, the floral motifs remain, its surfaces and mediums vary; while the latter challenges the “still-life” genre, by drawing portraits of flowers as they wilt, attesting to the concept of artist-as-witness-of-death. These drawings are representations of time manifested in the changing conditions of decaying flowers, yet culminating in what appears to be unmoving still-life drawings. Her works respond to literary texts such as 红楼梦 Dreams of the Red Chamber, On Human Bondage, and Dorian Gray, and have been published in Flower Flights (2018), It’s Fiction (2014) and Chasing Flowers: workings (2016) written by Junni Chen, Jeremy Fernando, Anders Kølle and Dustin Hellberg. This led to charcoal explorations of 花鸟画 (bird-and-flower paintings) depicting flower mythologies in her ongoing series Poppies. These have been exhibited by Art Porters, NUSS, ChanHampe Galleries, and Visual Arts Development Association Singapore.
In the 2016, she was invited by the Singapore Horn Trio to present works at their performance of Brahms’ Opus 40. She painted a quadriptych entitled Experiments with Johannes Brahm’s Horn Trio Movement 1–4, which weaved compositional concepts from 山水画 (shan shui) and 留白 techniques to visualise Brahm’s music in charcoal on Japanese linen.
Chen received her Ph.D. (Summa Cum Laude) under the Philosophy, Art, and Critical Theory division at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. Her dissertation research, entitled Skinning Nudity investigates the notion of nudity as an artificial construct — in its representations in Singapore artistic practices, in censorship limitations by the legal and policy frameworks, and through its historical evolution by local media coverage from the 1970s to 2017.
She obtained her Masters in Communications at The European Graduate School in 2014. Her thesis entitled Tracing Etymology: Origin and Time; Monsters and Demons was supervised by Wolfgang Schirmacher and Jeremy Fernando, and was published by Atropos Press in 2015. It attempts to rethink the relationship between ‘origin’ and ‘time’ in etymology and thought. It considers the paradoxical relationality between the notion of a single starting point (a fiction that etymology relies on) and the various possibilities that a hermeneutical study of a word unearths, suggesting a constellation rather than a single origin.
Chen received the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal Award and the Nanyang Scholarship for her Bachelors in Fine Arts (Digital Animation) with 1st class Honours from Nanyang Technological University in 2009. Since then, she has been trained at the Florence Academy of Art in Sweden, The Animation Workshop in Denmark, and under puppet makers Miroslav Trejtnar and Zdar Sorm from the Czech Republic. Her various education experiences were supported by grants from the National Arts Council, Media Development Authorities, and the Ministry of Education in Singapore. Her team built Jimmyfish, a commissioned eco-awareness flash game, which was awarded the Jury Selection Prize in the 15th Japan Media Arts Festival, 2012.
Currently, Chen is a full-time lecturer of art practice (educator track) in the Arts & Humanities Division of Yale-NUS College, National University of Singapore. She previously taught at the School of Art Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. The studio courses she offers include ‘Art Studio Research, Experimentation and Critique’, ‘Applied Drawing’, ‘Drawing for Animation’, ‘Introduction to 2D Animation’, 'Drawing Methods’, ‘Drawing Process’, 'Life Drawing', ‘Digital Narratives’, ‘Anatomical Studies and Figurative Art’, and ‘Storyboarding’. She is also a Capstone supervisor for final year projects.
In 2016, she co-wrote an art teacher’s textbook entitled 50 Drawing Exercises with artist Martin Constable (RMIT), published by the Ministry of Education. This book serves to aid in building a drawing curriculum for pre-university art education in Singapore.