Classical musicians branch out as concerts are shut down
With concerts curtailed, two from SSO turn to photography and hosting stints
With concert halls closed and events postponed or cancelled till further notice, the careers of many classical musicians here have come to a standstill.
Mr Chng Hak-Peng, chief executive officer of the Singapore Symphony Group (SSG), said the group had to cancel more than 20 Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) concerts between April and this month, estimating almost half a million dollars in lost revenue.
He said: "We are reviewing what other orchestras around the world are doing to keep our musicians safe while performing onstage. Social distancing for audience seating capacity will make a deep impact on ticket revenue."
The SSO has about 90 full-time musicians whose end-of-season paid break has been moved from June to May.
Mr Goh Yew Lin, SSG's chairman, penned an open letter two months ago seeking donations from the public.
He wrote: "I am very grateful to all the ticket holders who have chosen to forego their refunds and make a donation instead. We still have a gap to fill and to those who are able, please consider making a gift of any size to help us through this year."
A crowd-funding page was set up on giving.sg and almost $27,000 has been raised so far. The group said no target amount was set, but it hopes the funds will help alleviate the losses incurred to keep the industry going.
It is not all sour notes, however, as some musicians have used the downtime to hone their craft or pursue other interests.
Violinist William Tan, 56, has been occupying his time with photography at home, while keeping up with at least two hours of violin practice daily.
A self-taught photographer whose interest in nature and underwater photography piqued in the 90s, Mr Tan's photographs have been frequently featured in publications such as National Geographic (Hungary and China) and Asian Diver.
Before the circuit breaker started in April, Mr Tan would shoot sightings of rare birds in remote areas around Singapore.
He has also been holding talks online with photographers around the world, discussing topics such as photography ethics and techniques. Earlier this month, he was a panellist at the Asian Dive Expo, conducted over video conferencing.
Principal percussionist Jonathan Fox, 50, has been hosting live interviews online. Titled Conversations With The Artist on SSO's Facebook and YouTube handles, it features various musicians and provides viewers a more intimate view of them.
He hopes viewers will use it as a launching pad to explore more about the artists and their connections to the orchestra.
Though dampened by the lack of activity in the industry, Mr Fox said music still remains a significant part of his life. "It is in my DNA and never disappears - if it's not playing in my earphones, it's buzzing through my head."