Opening Locks - Evolving Horizons

Panel Discussion
27 August 2020
21:00 - 00:00 hrs (GMT+7)

Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore

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Opening Locks,  Evolving Horizons

Speakers: Professor Bernard Lanskey, Muse Ye, Jonathan Shin, Lin Xiangning


In inland shipping, artificial constructs, in the form of locks and canals, have long been used as mechanisms to transcend natural topographical limitations, thus forging new connections and opening up fresh horizons. Over time, the initially disruptive imposition of the canal combines with the confined space of the lock, enabling enhanced communicative, connective and reflective possibilities for flow. As time unfolds, nature re-emerges to create fresh beauty, enfolding these initially seemingly clumsier impositions as natural evolutions of the original landscape.

As a similar paradox, initial restrictions on physical movement and of more direct interaction over the past few months have arguably come to offer equivalent increased opportunity for energising fresh exploration, for creative experimentation, for personal reflection and for making new connections.


Back in January 2020, no one could have anticipated where each respective circumstance was to lead by March and beyond. As most anticipated activities were curtailed, new projects emerged while other different ways were found for presenting material originally planned for live performance. If such approaches are perhaps not yet second nature, there is a real sense where these enforced changes of approach and prioritisation in relation to the musical environment are becoming more normal, impacting consequently on personal and collective artistic identity and expectation.


This dialogue offers opportunity for cross-generational reflection on such unanticipated experiences, exploring constructs of contemporary presence in relation to experienced pasts and imagined futures – musical, philosophical, political, social. Apparent boundaries in relation to genre, creative and reflective process and musical experience – imaginary, virtual and real – will be teased using as starting points a contrasting range of self-identified personally transformative projects undertaken by each panellist.


While all four presenters undertook piano solo studies as undergraduates, their individual identities have been evolving since in multiple different directions. Bernard Lanskey is Dean of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (YST), National University of Singapore, and President of the Southeast Asia Directors of Music (SEADOM) Association. Muse Ye is a Teaching Assistant in Collaborative Piano at Ithaca College in the USA where she is undertaking a Master’s degree. Jonathan Shin is completing a DMA in Composition at the Peabody Institute, USA, while Lin Xiangning has recently been appointed as a Trainee Teaching Assistant (Contextual Studies) at YST where she is completing a Master’s in Piano Performance.



Alone, Together: YST Conservatory Orientation and Creative Project in the time of COVID-19

Speakers: Brett Stemple, Tony Makarome, Karst de Jong, Adeline Wong, Chen Zhangyi


Rébecca Kleinberger, of MIT Media Lab’s Opera of the Future research group, argues thatdue to reasons related to evolutionary-biology, physiology, and the psychology of communication, many of us find the recorded sound of own voices discordant and strangely unfamiliar. Her research seeks to illuminate pathways towards a fuller, healthier and “better applied understanding” of the personal relationship we have with our own voices. Through the metaphor of theatrical masks, Kleinberger explains that the discomfort we feel in hearing audio recordings of our voice is the result of the cognitive dissonance that exists between our self-perceived (or inward-mask/voice) voice, and the objective (or outward-mask/voice) projection of that voice into the world. The silent bubbling up of thoughts, that humans turn into speech, action or song—known in cognitive science as corollary discharge—represents the third and most foundational aspect of human communication, commonly known as our inner-voice. The virtual inner-voice is not only the “missing-link” between our thoughts and actions, but is also the representation of the deepest-self projections in real performances by the artists that communicate them.


The Professional Awareness (PA) teaching cluster—the recently restructured Year 1&2 foundational music studies teaching-group at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music—delivers conservatory-orientation through a series of exercises, activities and discussions to incoming first-year Conservatory students each year. In the weeks leading into the first semester, the PA cluster introduces the first-year cohort to the breadth of foundational music studies we offer at YST including Music, Concepts and Materials (MCM), Contextual Studies (CS), Professional Integration (PI), and Collaborative Music Making (CMM). These activities culminate with a premiere of a newly composed/improvised/curated “Creative Project” piece from allfirst-year students, to the entire Conservatory community in the first “Noontime Recital” of each academic year.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic social-distancing restrictions, the vast-majority of our 2020 orientation activities had to be delivered virtually and online. Despite the inherent and obvious challenges of shifting our activities from “real to virtual,” it also lead to numerous creative innovations including the virtual “MCM Bootcamp”, the virtual “Happy-Hour Hot Desk” discussion hours, and the culminating creative project performance, that mixed both live and virtual elements in a compelling online live-streamed performance of a piece that the students’ collectively entitled “Alone, Together”.


Come join key members of the Professional Awareness and YST Orientation team, Adeline Wong, Chen Zhangyi, Tony Makarome, Karst de Jong and Brett Stemple in a panel discussion, where they will explore and share their reflections on the sometimes surreal, sometimes challenging, but ultimately artistically fulfilling experience of nurturing the first-year students’ first steps towards discovering and unmasking their inner-voices. Together and alone, we collectively grew to realize that in the realm of inner-voices, the real and the virtual speak as one.


Recognizing Boundaries – Finding Synergy

Speakers: Khoo Hui Ling, Gabriel Lee, Htet Arkar, Kenny Ooi Chia Fu, Nicky Juanite, Sulwyn Lok, Thanisa Durongkaveroj

The music scene in Southeast Asia is a rapidly evolving one, composed of an exciting array of unique voices. Part of its evolution involves the emergence of technologies that have catalysed the field of interdisciplinary arts and enabled increased connections across temporal and geographical boundaries. Recent developments beg the following questions:

Is there a Southeast Asian musical identity? If so, how can we define it?


Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, when physical connections have been largely replaced by virtual ones, has technology helped the various musical identities in Southeast Asia connect with the broader community and with each other? If so, how?


Join Khoo Hui Ling, Lecturer in Contextual Studies at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and Gabriel Lee, Artist Fellow at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music as they explore the above questions together with five outstanding individuals from SEADOM’s 30
Under 30 Project.


The SEADOM 30 Under 30 Project is a decade-long initiative culminating in 2030 that brings together 30 Southeast Asian music leaders under the age of 30 through workshops and collaborations. Inspired by The International Council’s (IMC) Five Music Rights, these young music leaders embrace the multiplicity and hybridity of various musical styles and genres present in Southeast Asia, and are passionate about cultivating the next generation of musicians and audiences in their country and across the region. 


The five speakers from SEADOM’s 30 Under 30 Project are:


Htet Arkar, Myanmar
Kenny Ooi Chia Fu, Malaysia
Nicky Juanite, Philippines
Sulwyn Lok, Singapore
Thanisa Durongkaveroj, Thailand