LIFE AT THE CONSERVATORY
The Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore, offers a unique and adventurous 21st century Asian environment in which we train and educate performers, composers and recording engineers to take advantage of future professional and artistic opportunities anywhere in the world. Originally established in partnership with The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, the Conservatory is distinctively international in terms of its faculty, student population and artistic outlook. The Conservatory’s mission is to be a focal point for musical activity, artistic development and research, both for Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region, contributing to Singapore’s global position. Currently, 220 of the Asia-Pacific region’s most talented young musicians come to the Conservatory from twenty-two countries, including China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Australia, Iran, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States, as well as Singapore.
Although short of a decade of age, the student and alumni achievements have been extraordinary, with international successes in competitions, composition commissions, full-time orchestral appointments and full scholarships to many prestigious graduate schools in Europe and the United States. Full scholarships (including tuition fees and living support) are currently provided to all students admitted into the Bachelor of Music (Hons) Degree programme, following a $50 million gift from the family of the late Dr Yong Loo Lin.
The Conservatory offers a four-year, full-time undergraduate Bachelor of Music (Hons) Degree programme, with students majoring in Performance (Piano, Voice and Orchestral Instruments), Composition or Recording Arts and Science. The programme is supported by a well-balanced and appropriately integrated academic curriculum taught in English by a faculty drawn from over 10 countries. Music theory, history and ensemble participation are required in each major, while Humanities studies and electives allow students to pursue their interests in other disciplines within the University. In addition, there is a small Young Artist Programme (for outstanding teenage students) and a 2-year Graduate Diploma programme.
The Conservatory’s programmes are centred around performances, and each semester, students are featured in a broad range of activities. Regular showcase concerts, such as Primarily Piano, Double Stops, Cellissimo, chamber music recitals, Monday noon recitals, SoundBites, National University Health System (Music at Dusk), the Asian Civilisations Museum lunchtime series and a wide range of masterclasses and seminars with international visiting artists, offer students a spectrum of performance opportunities. The Conservatory Orchestra and the New Music Ensemble provide training and expose students to the music of the 18th through 21st centuries.
Distinguished artists who have visited the Conservatory include pianists Emmanuel Ax, Murray Perahia, Yefim Bronfman, Stephen Hough, Melvyn Tan and Leon Fleisher, renowned violinists Renaud Capuçon, Midori, Vadim Repin, David Takeno, Leonidas Kavakos, violist Nobuko Imai and cellists Wang Jian and Ralph Kirshbaum, conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Alan Gilbert, Claus Peter Flor, Takuo Yuasa, Mark Wigglesworth, Alondra de la Parra and Paolo Olmi, soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and acclaimed flautist Sir James Galway amongst many others. Visiting ensembles have included the Boston Brass, Shanghai Quartet and the Trio Owon with residencies also by members of the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, the Verbier Chamber Orchestra led by Gábor Takács-Nagy, Camerata de Lausanne led by Pierre Amoyal, and members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
THE PEABODY CONNECTION
The signing of an agreement in 2001 between NUS and Peabody created the first collaboration of its kind between a leading university in the Asia-Pacific region and a renowned American conservatory of music. Ranked among the top music schools in the world, Peabody is an acknowledged leader in the cultural life of the United States, with graduates occupying the top echelons of the music profession. The collaboration ensures that the Conservatory develops high quality tertiary programmes in music, measured against international benchmarks. The Peabody collaboration provides for frequent student and faculty exchanges across all departments. To date, 41 Yong Siew Toh Conservatory students have participated in exchange programmes at Peabody, allowing them to experience the full breadth of activities at a major American conservatory of music. Faculty members from Peabody also make regular visits to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory to coach students and conduct masterclasses.
JOINT DEGREE PROGRAMME
As a further partnership with the Peabody Conservatory, the National University of Singapore and The Johns Hopkins University signed an agreement on 8 March 2011 to launch a Joint Bachelor of Music Degree programme starting in August 2011. This Joint Degree programme is the first and only international undergraduate conservatory music programme of its kind in the world and allows students to attend classes on campuses in both Singapore and Baltimore, United States. Currently, 5 Yong Siew Toh Conservatory students and 3 Peabody students are on the Joint Degree programme.