Author: Albert Tay

Who Cares About the General Elections 2020?

As a young man during my early 20s, I was quite apathetic towards politics and current affairs. After all, I’ve never had to exercise my right to vote (walkovers were very common back then) and my life went on as per norm. No biggie right? All that changed after I started studying with Mr. Leong Yoon Pin. He was a principled man who cared deeply about his surroundings and the people around him. The fact that he actually got upset seeing people smoke and harming pregnant ladies with second hand smoke speaks volumes about the kind of man he is. I would often observe folded newspapers on his sea-facing desk during my morning “harmony” (composition) pilgrimages to his Bayshore home. He seems to read the news everyday and is very well versed in current affairs.  Being ever curious, I asked him “Why would you bother reading the news when it doesn’t really concern us at all?” He was obviously amused (and a little concerned) but patiently replied “Politics, current affairs, policies affect us in more …

WOW! The Arts Are Essentially Non-Essential?!

WOW! Hear hear! The Arts Are Essentially Non-Essential?! Intellectually, I understand the survey simply brought to the fore, typical Singaporean culture and psyche. After all, we’ve come so far together (economically) because of a heady mix of ingredients – big doses of pragmatism, utilitarianism, legalism with a pinch of elitism. Nothing wrong there and I’m really not anti-establishment. I’ve travelled extensively for artistic work overseas and with each new city and culture I encounter, I’m ever more grateful to be born in Singapore. My observation is that in general, local Artists do lead a far more comfortable and stable life as compared to some of our counterparts overseas. Thank you very much. Emotionally however, it did hurt to have my calling and my profession (one I take great pride in), be labeled as ‘non-essential’. It is an uncomfortable proposition, however seemingly logical the non-essential label may be. Artist colleagues from across disciplines, were similarly and understandably outraged and/or upset. A pragmatist can hardly dispute Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a (rough) guide to the determination …

A Tapestry of Sacred Music Arvo Pärt’s Passio: St John Passion in the Dark

It was an amazing experience to be invited by the Esplanade to perform in “A Tapestry of Sacred Music“. This annual music festival is presented by the Esplanade and sees some of the most colourful performances of spiritual-religious music by equally colourful performers. This year, I had the privilege to be part of this huge festival as chorus-master, preparing the Schola Cantorum Singapore for Arvo Pärt’s Passio. The concert was fully subscribed and the Esplanade Concert Hall was packed with an appreciative audience. The choir and I had a really good time studying in depth, Pärt’s music and delving deep into this poetic music and text that speaks of the spirit behind one man’s ultimate sacrifice. A big thank you to the Esplanade for inviting and hosting us so wonderfully, and a big shoutout and thank you to The Straits Times (ST Life 17 April 2019) and 938NOW DJ Eugene Loh’s live radio show for the wonderful coverage on this event.