Since 2020, the Composers Society of Singapore (CSS) has been releasing a monthly series for our Musings section, Composer of the Month! As part of the CSS 15th Anniversary Special Feature, we have interviewed XIAO Chunyuan and Mr LEE Yuk Chuan from the Association of Composers (Singapore).
A Brief Introduction of the Association of Composers (Singapore)
Founded in Feb 1993, the Association dated back its roots as part of the National Theatre Trust in the 1970s under the name National Theatre Composers' Circle. The Circle was dissolved in 1991 after National Theatre Trust was merged with the new board, National Arts Council. The members of the Circle then decided to form a new association for the composers in late 1992 and on February 22nd 1993, the Association was officially registered with Registrar of Societies as Association of Composers (Singapore).
In the 1980s till now, the association has published 15 songbooks and music DVDs and CDs and had organized one of the major composition events, Asian Composers' League as well.
Interviewer: NG Yu Hng
Dear Chunyuan and Mr Lee, thank you for this opportunity for the CSS to interview you both! Could you tell us a bit about the history behind the Association of Composers (AoC), how and how did it get start up as an organization?
Chunyuan: The Association of Composers (Singapore) used to be part of the National Theatre Trust. We were called National Theatre Composers' Circle and a couple of names before. In 1990, National Theatre Trust became part of National Arts Council and we dissolved during that period. In 1992, we submitted our application to Registry of Societies Singapore and in February 1993, Association of Composers (Singapore) was formed.
Mr Lee: We started off as a group of friends who write music. At first, we didn’t want to call ourselves ‘composers’, we just want to write music, you know? But we eventually needed an organization to register in Singapore, and that’s when we decided we should call ourselves the Association of Composers.*
What is the tradition of music-making that the AoC is engaging in?
Chunyuan: For what type of works our composers write, you may go to our Youtube channel to take a look!
Mr Lee: It is also worth mentioning that we as musicians should be open to a wide variety of works. Nowadays, we can listen to music from the Baroque to modern pieces (and beyond). Some musicians stick to a certain tradition due to their own listening tastes, such as only listening to Mozart or Beethoven, but to be a good composer is to always be curious about new approaches to write music!
What would you like the wider Singaporean public to know about the music-making of the AoC, and any upcoming projects the AoC is programming?
Chunyuan: Our next recital is on 23 April 2023 at the Esplanade recital studio, 7.30pm. The title of the recital is Compositions Exchange 2023- Trio. It will feature piano trios and works for voice, violin & piano or works for voice, cello & piano. Price is $30 per ticket. There will also be a pre-concert talk "Composition Analysis" by 3 of our members: Tan Chan Boon, Gan Yun Zhuo & Cao Ying at the Esplanade Library on 23 April 2023, 5pm - 6pm.
Besides the publishing of songbooks and CDs, the Association also organized numerous concert recitals, including the recent ones such as Compositions Exchange 2022- of East & West (2022),The Voice of Hope – Works by Lian Sek Lin (2022), Our Night’s Rendezvous 2 – Works by Chiew Keng Hoon (2021),Temasek-Vocal Compositions by Xiao Chunyuan (2021), Poems & Music (2020), Compositions Exchange 2019-A Singaporean & Malaysian Compositions Recital (2019), Our Home (2019) & Instrumental Concert (2018).
*Mr Lee's interview responses were transcribed into English from an audio transcript.
** All pictures used with permission from AoC