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Preview: Celebrations for Prof’ Ho by NUS Centre For the Arts (Music)

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This weekend, Singaporean musicians are coming together to celebrate the 80th birthday of musical leader and key advocate for the development of local school bands, Associate Prof Ho Hwee Long.

Comprising performers drawn from alumni and current band members of the National Institute of Education, National Junior College and National University of Singapore, all of whom were developed under the baton of Prof Ho, will perform a repertoire that includes pieces by Johan de Meij, Alfred Reed, Iwai and Duthoit. The final piece of the evening will be Lou Tieshan’s Dance of Yao, which was arranged for wind band by Prof Ho himself. Funds raised at the event will contribute to the Ho Hwee Long Music Score Commission Fund established in Prof Ho’s honour.

“As the Music Director and Resident Conductor of NUS Wind Symphony for a decade, Prof Ho was an inspirational mentor for our students,” says NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA) Director, Sharon Tan. “As he has done throughout his career, he nurtured the students of NUS Wind Symphony as musicians and encouraged them to take ownership of their group and their creative choices though a rigorous performance and touring schedule.”

Having championed the development of musical groups across Singapore throughout his career, Prof Ho has been a passionate advocate for expanding the art form and exposing audiences to different musical aesthetics for five decades. The Ho Hwee Long Music Score Commission Fund was then created by NUS Centre For the Arts to honour this legacy by ensuring Singapore’s educational institutions have access to new and exciting compositions. Pieces commissioned by the fund must incorporate a degree of technical or creative innovation while also reflecting the diversity of Singapore’s cultural influences. In an effort to facilitate the use of these pieces in teaching, documentation of the creative process will be included with each composition.

“Commissioned music can better tailor to the needs of our young bands,” says Francis Tan, who succeeded Prof Ho as NUS Wind Symphony’s Music Director and Resident Conductor. “They are also more likely to explore ethnic instruments such as Malay, Indian or Chinese instruments to enrich the wind band sound and promote wind band composition from our region.”

To further encourage musical development in Singapore’s educational institutions, each composition and their associated reference material will be made freely available to all local secondary and tertiary wind bands. This initiative will reduce the expense of licensing music scores while encouraging groups to perform locally composed music.

“He taught us not only band music, but more importantly, how to be decent human beings,” says past student, Advisor and Former Director-General of Education, Ms Ho Peng. “My most vivid recollection was the time we prepared for our band tour to Kuala Lumpur and Port Dickson in 1972. The organising committee had clear roles and were empowered to take charge of many thing, working late into the evenings. We even built our own crates to transport the instruments. The intense experiences served to bond us. To this day, many band members are still in touch with each other.”

“Looking back, the experiences in the band and what Prof Ho taught have shaped much of my character and stood me in good stead for life.”

Prof Ho’s final major performance with the NUS Wind Symphony was their 50th anniversary concert in March 2018.

Celebrations plays on 9th November 2019 at the University Cultural Centre Theatre, For more information and tickets, visit their website here

 

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