Issue 120 | Jan-Mar 2020

The Gift Of Music

The Ho Hwee Long Music Score Commission Fund ensures that school bands have a wider selection of newly-commissioned, royalty-free musical compositions to perform with.

Making more musical scores available to schools for free benefits Singapore’s cultural education efforts in a number of ways. Not only does it expose students to a greater variety of music — and hence the opportunity for more performances to the public — it also provides a platform for local composers to debut their new works. With these in mind, the NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA) established the Ho Hwee Long Music Score Commission Fund, named after Associate Professor Ho Hwee Long. The fund will be used to commission new wind band scores, which can be performed by all local schools’ musical groups, including the NUS Wind Symphony, free of charge.

Prof Ho is no stranger to Singapore’s wind band scene. The former Music Director and Resident Conductor of NUS Wind Symphony (2008-2018) was among the first batch of band instructors trained to start the Singapore School Band Project in 1967 and has taught generations of Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Madam Ho Ching (Engineering ’76) during their school days. Fifty years on, he is still guiding student bands and inspiring young minds. 
To celebrate Prof Ho’s 80th birthday, a special fundraising concert was held on 9 November 2019 at the University Cultural Centre to support the Ho Hwee Long Music Score Commission Fund. Alumni from the NUS, National Institute of Education (NIE) and National Junior College bands — who all previously trained under Prof Ho — came together to present the Celebrations concert. Over $15,000 was raised from the event. CFA aims to raise another $10,000 so that students can fully benefit from the initiative. 

music-cMr Jeffrey Tan,  
Marine Engineer and NUS Wind Symphony President
(Engineering ’13) 

“I have played under Prof Ho since my National Junior College days in 2007. Prof Ho is like a father figure to us. His concern for his students extends beyond concert and band music. During rehearsal, he was strict yet very positive to his students. Playing music was difficult back then but he continued to encourage and help us to be more proficient. 

One of the most memorable experiences I had of Prof Ho was the NUS Wind Symphony’s 50th anniversary concert in 2018, which featured a good mix of musicians from different generations. Prof Ho took the opportunity to tell us stories about band music ‘back in the day’, and how some of the seniors looked and behaved then. It was a very pleasant rehearsal experience.

That concert reinforced my love for band music, as it was not just about giving a good performance but also about fostering relationships with all the band members. Just like how Prof Ho has been teaching band music for the last five decades, I will also play my part to find more performance opportunities for the alumni band so that we can create new memories with everyone.”
Assoc Prof Ho Hwee Long among the large crowd that attended Celebrations on 9 November 2019.

music-dMr Lawrence Siao,  
Teacher and NIESB Concert Master
(Arts and Social Sciences ’97)

“I joined the NIE Symphonic Band (NIESB) in 1988 and learnt under Prof Ho when I enrolled in the Specialist Diploma in Band Directing course conducted by NIE and NTU in 2008. I continued learning from him as I played with the NIESB Alumni and when I became the NIESB Concert Master.

What inspired me most about Prof Ho is his gentle nature, which manifested in two ways. One, the way he deals with musicians: he never once raised his voice at us, not even when we didn’t manage to get the music right. Two, his style of conducting: the elegance and aura he exudes as he waves his baton, particularly in the soft or slow passages of the music we played.

Prof Ho’s disposition has motivated me to emulate him in my own teaching career — not to yell at students and musicians to get what I want from the music. However, this does not mean that Prof Ho has no standards. It is perhaps the quiet confidence he has in us that has very often propelled us to practise harder and, ultimately, deliver the music to the audience. 

Prof Ho can also get very philosophical at times. This is evident in his teaching and rehearsals. I remembered once when we were discussing the topic ‘The meaning of music’ and he asked us in return, ‘What is the meaning of the meaning of music?’.”  
If you will like to make a contribution to the Ho Hwee Long Music Score Commission Fund or other arts initiatives, visit

Text by Dennis Yin. Photos of Celebrations concert: The Pixel Flair.

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