A Well-Loved Orchestra
I have so many great memories from my nine years with the SSO, but what comes to mind first of all are some of the very special people I got to work with, in addition to the amazing musicians and office colleagues.
Top of the list is then NTUC Secretary General Mr Ong Teng Cheong, who organised a concert of Singapore songs with the orchestra and spoke with great sincerity about sharing the joy of fine music with the workers of the nation. Later, as President Ong, he performed at a fundraiser for the SSO in what I believe was a milestone for the orchestra.
And then there’s Mr Shaw Vee Meng, who agreed to fund the construction of the first Symphony Stage at the Botanic Gardens in the course of one delicious lunch. I will always be grateful to the Shaw Foundation for making it possible to do open-air concerts without having to build rickety and costly temporary stages.
Another supportive donor was Dr Yeo Ning Hong, who attended concerts regularly and listened to my prattling about SSO matters at the interval – with the wonderful outcome of extra support for the SSO from the Tote Board.
There were such happy times at the old Victoria Concert Hall (VCH). It was part of the SSO identity back then. We made do even though storage was along a corridor and there was no space for musicians backstage. The ABRSM* offices and music studios squeezed into the upper level added life to the building as well as some helpful income.
When it came to getting a portrait of Dr Goh Keng Swee for Singapore Symphony – a coffeetable book featuring portraits by renowned photographer Russel Wong, I brought along a model of VCH to Dr Goh’s office for the shoot, just to make that visual connection. The result was not only a wonderful photograph, but I also had the privilege of a relaxed and informative conversation where Dr Goh shared his vision for the orchestra, and spoke of the SSO with great affection.
It is a privilege to have been a part in the SSO’s history.
* Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music