SCO and Nafa team up to boost Singapore’s classical Chinese music scene

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SINGAPORE – Moses Gay, the youngest associate conductor of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) to date, has received tutelage from eminent conductors such as Roberto Paternostro and Martin Sieghart and other renowned musicians from around the world.

But two professors from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) stood out as his mentors – Mr. James Yap and Dr. Rebecca Kan.

Mr Yap, who is an assistant lecturer at Nafa, met Gay outside of school to offer advice on his studies and career.

Dr. Kan, vice-dean of Nafa’s education and research unit, encouraged him whenever he felt like giving up his direction. She also caught up with him during a Nafa business trip to China, where Gay was doing his master’s degree in conducting at the China Conservatory of Music.

“Apart from musical studies, these two mentors cared about my well-being when I was at the crossroads between pursuing or not pursuing musical studies, explains Gay, 37. , but also a better person.”

On April 1, SCO and Nafa signed a three-year agreement at Nafa’s Lee Foundation Theater for the preservation and promotion of traditional Chinese arts, music and culture. Both will advance Chinese music here, while providing more performance, learning and career opportunities for Nafa students.

The MoU was signed by SCO Executive Director Terence Ho and Nafa President Tan-Soh Wai Lan in the presence of Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong , who is also the second Minister of Law.

The ceremony was followed by a chamber music concert featuring nine SCO musicians and seven Nafa students.

Gay, who is also a student of renowned erhu master Zhang Yuming, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Nafa, graduating in 2010 with first class honors.

In 2011, he was appointed assistant to the orchestral direction at the SCO. He became its Deputy Conductor in 2014 and Associate Conductor in 2021. He is also Associate Conductor of the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra (SNYCO) and Music Director of the National University of Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

He says, “I hope SCO and SNYCO can play a role in growing and nurturing the next generation of Chinese Nafa orchestra musicians and administrators, providing performance platforms and opportunities for SNYCO and turning them into our colleagues at SCO.”

Besides Gay, other Nafa alumni who are with the SCO are zhongruan senior associate Lo Chai Xia, zhongruan musician Koh Min Hui, erhu musician Ann Hong Mui, ruan musician Jonathan Ngeow, zhonghu musician Wong Qin Kai and percussionist Benjamin Boo.

In March this year, the membership of the Singapore SCO Orchestra stood at 54 out of 84 musicians, including the six from Nafa.

Nafa’s Ms. Tan-Soh says that since 2009, the SCO and Nafa have been working hand in hand to foster a more vibrant Chinese music ecosystem by nurturing budding musicians.

“Our students have had the privilege of seeing SCO’s closed-door rehearsals, learning about successful internship opportunities, and performing on stage alongside SCO musicians,” she adds.

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