NUS Symphony Orchestra
The Orchestra offers undergraduates an opportunity to enjoy making music while reading other disciplines. Besides being the first orchestra in Singapore to perform the Double Bass Concerto, it has also performed overseas with the distinction of being the first student group in Singapore selected to participate in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (Scotland, 1998).
The Orchestra was formally established as the NUS Concert Orchestra in 1979 under the auspices of the former University of Singapore and the directorship of Paul Abisheganaden. Inaugurated as the NUS Symphony Orchestra in 1995, its beginnings can be traced back to the 1920s in the form of a Chamber Ensemble.
The Orchestra is home to about 90 members consisting of undergraduates, alumni and friends. Maestro Lim Soon Lee has been its Music Director/Resident Conductor since 1994, while musicians from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra tutor the various sections of the Orchestra.
The Orchestra is proud to have rehearsed under guest conductors including Professor Hikmet Simsek, Conductor of the Ankara Conservatory Orchestra, and the late Shalom Ronly Riklis who conducted the Tel Aviv Orchestra. Apart from collaborating with choirs, the Orchestra has accompanied renowned alphorn soloist Jozsef Molnar from Switzerland as well as Singapore soloists Tan Peng Tow, Tang Tee Khoon, Pang Siu Yuin, Toh Chee Hung and Dennis Lee.
The Orchestra has also been active in bringing orchestra music to the university community and the public. It has performed at venues ranging from shopping centres to the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the Istana Park. It participated in the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts And Dance) festival in 1998 and the Singapore Arts Festival 1999. It has also played at official functions including The World Trade Organisation First Ministerial Conference Concert Preview at the Sentosa Musical Fountain, the NUS Convocation Dinners and the President's Scholarships Presentation Ceremony.
The Orchestra boasts collaborations with the late Leslie Cheung, a well-known Hong Kong singer at the MediaCorp All-Star Charity event, which was beamed live to households in Singapore in 1999. It also collaborated with Benjamin Zander in a management seminar that involved music as a paradigm for management and leadership.
The Orchestra collaborated with internationally acclaimed piano virtuoso, Konstantin Scherbakov in 2003 where the soloist received a standing ovation for his stunning performance of Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 in C Minor. The Orchestra's performance of Saint Saen's Violin Concerto No. 3, Op. 61 in B Minor with Chinese violin virtuoso, Yang Tianwa in 2004 was a success as well. Other collaborations include a concert featuring the Singapore Lyric Theatre and Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow in 2004 and accompanying a 300-strong choir comprising singers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore at the Yellow River Cantata concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall in 2005. In March 2007, the Orchestra accompanied Anatoly Zelinsky, Principal Violist of Christchurch Symphony Orchestra who performed Hindemith's 'Trauermusik' for Viola and Orchestra, and Paganini's Grand Sonata for Viola and Orchestra.
The Orchestra has performed extensively overseas. As the first group from Singapore selected to perform at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Scotland (1998), it was praised by The Evening Express, which described the group's performances as "Something Special from Singapore." The Orchestra also took part in the 8th Japan International Youth Musicale held in Shizuoka, Japan (2000), the 12th Australian International Music Festival at the Sydney Opera House (2001), and an exchange and performance at Chulalornkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand (2004). It was selected to perform at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival Opening Concert (2005) and was described by The Press and Journal as a group that made a particular welcome return this year in a superb concert that featured popular works by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Chen Gang's Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto.
In 2006, the Orchestra accompanied Man Of Letters, the NUS Centennial Musical composed by Dick Lee, as well as the Singapore Idol Finalists, Hady Mirza and Jonathan Leong at the Grand Finals at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
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