Singaporean composer Kelly Tang writes orchestral suite inspired by local artworks

Singaporean composer Kelly Tang writes orchestral suite inspired by local artworks

Inspired by artworks from five different local visual artists, Dr. Kelly Tang composed a seven-movement orchestral suite while recovering from a stroke.

Titled Movements In Time — Artworks from the National Gallery, the suite was written by Dr. Tang to represent values that he deemed important to Singaporeans. The Cultural Medallion recipient was influenced by visual artists such as the late batik maestro Sarkasi Said and celebrated painter Chua Mia Tee among others. 

Dr. Tang shared: “I chose visual artworks as my source of stimuli because I have an interest in visual culture, and I wanted to look for something that people can easily find and see; hence my choice of works is from a public space like the National Gallery Singapore".

Despite suffering a stroke in 2020, the renowned composer continued to write the suite while recovering. Dr. Tang's works are performed globally, by ensembles such as the Russian National Orchestra, and Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines (UK), and locally by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Singapore Chinese Orchestra

“Music is my life. So, when I suffered a stroke, I turned to music to help me regain my life. Having to compose while recovering from the stroke was challenging but you can say that the act of making music again was a lifesaver for me,” added Dr. Tang. 

The suite will make its world debut performance on 24 June at the Esplanade Concert Hall, performed by the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra

Praising Dr. Tang's perseverance in his foreword for the concert programme, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Edwin Tong said: “In itself, composing is a demanding and challenging process, but made even more daunting in Kelly’s case. As you listen to the music this evening, I hope you will be inspired by Kelly’s testimony of determination and tenacity”.

Movements In Time is the first of many commissioned works planned for the Music Commissioning Series by The Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise, a 10-year project dedicated to building a canon of Singapore music

Acknowledging his ability and versatility as a composer, Michael Tay, founder of The Foundation added: “Not only has he created great music, but his new suite also promotes the artworks of some of Singapore's top visual artists. But the greatest inspiration of all is the demonstration of the transcendent, healing power of music”.

The concert will also feature an opening performance by piano prodigy Mikkel Myer Lee, who was the youngest ever pianist to perform Chopin 24 Preludes Op. 28 last year and Chopin Piano Concerto No.1 and Concerto No.2 on 6 June. 

Tickets, priced between S$28 and S$108, are available via SISTIC