Music is a powerful form of expression that is easily shared across diverse communities in Singapore. Our diverse music scene today reflects Singapore’s history and multi-cultural society. Early settlers brought western and traditional music to the island, with jazz and swing tea dances of the 50s giving way to the lounge bands of the 60s, and a short-lived rock and roll movement of the 70s. Xinyao and community songs in turn gave way to MTV, and today, Singapore musicians are discovering their own voice and making a name for themselves internationally.
A Vibrant and Professional Scene
Established in the 70s, Singapore’s national orchestras – the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) present versatile repertoires to audiences in Singapore and abroad, and play an important role in inspiring musicians and audiences alike. Other key organisations across various genres include the Jazz Association (Singapore), New Opera Singapore, Orchestra of Music Makers, Resound Collective, The Observatory as well as professionals, community groups who contribute to the significant growth in the music scene. Many reputable traditional music companies also make up our vibrant music scene, connecting us to our roots while enabling an exploration of our cultural identity as Singaporeans. Prestigious music competitions are also organised at a national level to identify and groom talents, as well as a multitude of local music festivals organised by cultural institutions and international music events brought into Singapore.
Music Education in Singapore
In Singapore, music is part of the core curriculum in Primary and Lower Secondary on top of the strong interest for music and choral music co-curricular activities (CCAs) in schools. Many young children and youths nurture their gift of music in the orchestral bands and choirs that are staples in Singapore’s schools. Young classical musicians aspiring to pursue music professionally also have the opportunity to enrol in Yong Siew Toh Music Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore. To enhance professional knowledge and skills across the sector on a whole, the National Arts Council (NAC) supports the capability development of our musicians to raise their competencies in various aspects.
Establishing a Singapore Presence
With a firm foundation in broad-based music education and participation in place, the National Arts Council (NAC) focuses on building an appetite for Singapore music among audiences, be it music performed or created by Singapore musicians. Together with the independent music media company Bandwagon, NAC initiated Hear65 a national movement to celebrate and promote all forms of Singaporean music. By working with different stakeholders in the scene to increase public awareness for music, NAC also develops and supports intermediaries such as music societies, associations, agents and producers to build a strong ecosystem. NAC looks beyond Singapore to establish exchanges and residencies with partners from international platforms to enhance our musicians’ global connectivity, provide opportunities for them to learn from international counterparts and grow their audience base in respective markets.