Formed In 1980, The NUSChoir, a member of the NUS Centre For the Arts, comprises over 70 students and alumni from various NUS faculties who share a common passion for singing and choral music. The choir aims to promote choral music excellence within the campus and to external audiences by performing throughout the year.
Every March, The NUSChoir stages its annual concert, Varsity Voices, performing an extensive range of repertoire that features choral music, both old and new. This year’s edition, themed Varsity Voices 2013: Signatures, the choir showcased challenging competition repertoire along with lighthearted pieces.
Aside from its annual concert, the choir also performs for local audiences outside NUS. In addition, the choir showcases a repertoire of Christmas carols every December at numerous hotels, high society clubs and shopping centres.
The choir also takes part in international competitions overseas as well and has garnered many awards, such as the Gold Award with Perfect Scores in Open Mixed and Jazz categories – Fiesta Choralis, Slovakia, 2010, Overall Champion with Perfect Scores – Grand Prix, Russia, 2008, among many others. Most recently, the choir emerged champions in three categories (Youth, Folk Song and Mixed Choirs) at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod 2012 and were finalists in the Pavarotti Cup, competing for the title of ‘Choir of the World’.
Under the baton of Prof. Nelson Kwei, Singapore’s premier choral director, The NUSChoir continues to embark on its journey, expanding its repertoire to encompass even more diverse and challenging choral music.
Professor Nelson Kwei
Choral Director and Resident Conductor
Professor Nelson Kwei, the premier choral director of Singapore, is an international acclaimed conductor, conservatorium lecturer, editorial advisor, international adjudicator, music arranger and vocal clinician in the music scene. He is a Fellow from the London College of Music, has a Licentiate in singing from the Guildhall School of Music and Advance Post-Graduate in Choral Conducting from the Royal Academy of Music (London).
In 1993, Professor Kwei was honoured with the “National Youth Service Award”, the highest Youth Award in Singapore, in recognition of his significant contribution in the field of choral art. In 1999, he was awarded with the “Culture Award” by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and in 2001, the Rotary Club honoured him as the “Ambassador of the Arts” for Singapore. In 2011, COMPASS Singapore has awarded Professor Nelson Kwei with the prestigious “Meritorious Award” in view of his outstanding artistic achievement and contribution to the nation.
On the international level, Professor Kwei won the prestigious “Outstanding Choral Director Award” two years in a row at the International Choral Competition in Germany, 1998 & 1999 and also the “Best Conductor Award” at the Petr Eben International Choral Competition 2002 & 2004 in Prague. In recent years, he has led his choirs to 8 Gold Medals including 3 Choir Olympic Champions in the World Choir Games held in Bremen, Germany & Xiamen, China. His choir was also the first Asian choir to win the Grand Prize & Audience Prize at the prestigious Concorso Corale Internazionale held in Riva Del Garda, Italy. In 2008, he was also conferred the “Conductor Prize” in the recent 10th edition of the internationally-acclaimed choral competition.
Currently, he is an executive member of the National Arts Council’s Advisory Board for Choral Development in Singapore, the NAC external assessor for music, the Honorary Chairman of the Choral Directors’ Association (Singapore) and the President of the Singapore Federation for Choral Music. Internationally, he is the First Vice-Chairman of the Asian Youth Choir Council, an international federation for choirs & conductors, as well as the Artistic Director of “A Voyage of Songs” and “Concentus Orientale”, both are prominent international choral competitions. Professor Nelson Kwei is also invited as both clinician and adjudicator in many top international choral festivals and competitions including the World Choir Games Series. Currently, he is the Conductor of many prestigious schools, colleges, university and semi-professional choirs in Singapore that have won numerous national and international accolades.
Ms Mary Tan practices both law and music. She holds a Licentiate and a Fellowship from the Trinity College of London in singing, performing and piano teaching as well as a Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music for piano teaching and singing performance. She is also a popular clinician at vocal workshops and camps organized by the Ministry of Education.
Ms Tan believes in the healing power of music and has used it with inmates of Changi Women’s Prison as a form of therapy. She believes that while rules, regulations and regimentation cannot soften the soul and revitalise the spirit, the gentle power of music can help the incarcerated discover the fullness of their lives again, as worthwhile human beings in spite of past mistakes. Music, she feels, helps them to appreciate the finer side of life.
She would like to share this message with the many youth choristers in our audience tonight: “Young men and women, performing in a well-trained choir is like standing at the portals of great joy. Do use your gift of music to reach out to those you have yet to reach out to.”
Mr Reuben Lai studied at the Guildhall in London under David Pollard and Paul Farrington and with Peter Alexander Wilson and Stephen Robertson at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) with the generous assistance of Chevron-Texaco, the National Arts Council (Singapore) and the RSAMD Postgraduate Fund.
While at the RSAMD, Mr Lai was also involved in concerts throughout Scotland as a solo singer. He was also selected to sing for numerous masterclasses and was the runner up for the prestigious Ye Cronies Opera Prize. He is the first Singaporean to be chosen for the prestigious Samling scholarship and participated in public and private masterclasses at the Sage, Gatehead in Newcastle with Sir Thomas Allen and Isobel Buchanan. He was also invited to sing for Jose Cura for an international masterclass project in September 2008.
Operatic roles that he has recently performed include Lenski in Evgeny Onegin and the Tanzmeister in Ariadne auf Naxos. Described as a “first rate tenor” by Opera magazine for his role as Truffaldino in L’amour des trios oranges by Prokofieff, he also received praise for his role as Lenski and the Chevalier de la Force. He was a member of the Glyndebourne Opera chorus and covered Bardolfo for Falstaffon tour. Recently he has sung the role of 2nd Nazarene for Singapore Lyric Opera’s production Salome.
As an educator, Mr Lai has been involved with working with choirs, giving workshops and organizing concerts. He is particularly interested in the development of young voices and working to get students to learn to perform without inhibitions.
The Graduate Singers
TGS is the alumni group of The NUSChoir. It aims to be a platform for former NUSChoir members and the public alike to push the conventional boundaries of choral singing, and to promote choral excellence in Singapore.
In 2011, TGS was invited to collaborate with The NUS Dance Ensemble in VariAsian, as part of the Ensemble’s lead-up to its 20th anniversary in September 2012. VariAsian, which premiered at the NUS Arts Festival in March 2011, featured a fusion of choral and dance elements conceptualised by the Ensemble’s founder and Artistic Director Zaini Mohd Tahir, incorporating an original composition by TGS member Harris Ang.
Apart from supporting The NUSChoir at its annual Varsity Voices concert series, TGS continues mentoring efforts by conducting exchange programs. TGS also sings for weddings, earning them the moniker The Wedding Singers, and engages in Christmas carolling sessions, having recently performed at the Universal Studios Singapore Christmas festivities.
Calling all The NUSChoir alumni! The Graduate Singers are constantly on the lookout for new members, so do give us a ring if you are interested to reconnect and sing with old and new friends alike
Members of public who are interested in singing with us – we are also constantly on the look out for singers with a passion for choral music!