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Guide to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

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« Each player a virtuoso in his own right, this was a reading of close to perfect precision and exactitude. Following the austere Sinfonia, the central Theme and Variations became an exciting showcase of free-wheeling virtuosity.  »
Chang Tou Liang, September 2020

Since its founding in 1979, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) has been Singapore’s flagship orchestra, touching lives through classical music and providing the heartbeat of the cultural scene in the cosmopolitan city-state.

In addition to its subscription series concerts, the orchestra is well-loved for its outdoor and community appearances, and its significant role educating the young people of Singapore. The SSO has also earned an international reputation for its orchestral virtuosity, having garnered sterling reviews for its overseas tours and many successful recordings.

In 2021, the SSO clinched third place in the prestigious Orchestra of the Year Award by Gramophone

The SSO makes its performing home at the 1,800-seat state-of-the-art Esplanade Concert Hall. More intimate works, as well as outreach and community performances take place at the 673-seat Victoria Concert Hall, the home of the SSO. The orchestra performs over 60 concerts a year, and its versatile repertoire spans all-time favourites and orchestral masterpieces to exciting cutting-edge premieres. Bridging the musical traditions of East and West, Singaporean and Asian musicians and composers are regularly showcased in the concert season. This has been a core of the SSO’s programming philosophy from the very beginning under Choo Hoey, who was Music Director from 1979 to 1996.

‘I am stunned by the world-class quality of the Singapore Symphony.’ - Fanfare

'Who would suppose an orchestra in Asia could remind one of Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia?' - Fanfare

'A fine display of orchestral bravado for the SSO and Shui' - The Guardian

Under the Music Directorship of Lan Shui from 1997 to 2019, the SSO has performed in Europe, Asia and the United States. In May 2016 the SSO was invited to perform at the Dresden Music Festival and the Prague Spring International Music Festival. This successful five-city tour of Germany and Prague also included the SSO’s second performance at the Berlin Philharmonie. In 2014 the SSO’s debut at the 120th BBC Proms in London received critical acclaim in the major UK newspapers The Guardian and The Telegraph. The SSO has also performed in China on multiple occasions.

In 2020, the SSO appointed renowned Austrian conductor Hans Graf as its Chief Conductor. In a time greatly disrupted by COVID-19, the SSO continued to keep music alive and lift spirits up through a multitude of digital concerts and videos, which crossed a million views in six months.

The SSO has released more than 50 recordings in its 40-year history, with more than 30 on the BIS label. The most recent critically acclaimed albums include a Rachmaninoff box set (2021), Richard Strauss' “Rosenkavalier and Other Works (2020), and three Debussy discs "La Mer", "Jeux" and "Nocturnes". The orchestra has also released albums of contemporary works linked to East Asia, including works by Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Bright Sheng, Alexander Tcherepnin, and others.

The SSO has also collaborated with such great artists as Lorin Maazel, Charles Dutoit, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Neeme Järvi, Gustavo Dudamel, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Diana Damrau, Martha Argerich, Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, Janine Jansen, Leonidas Kavakos and Gil Shaham.

The SSO is part of the Singapore Symphony Group, which also manages the Singapore Symphony Choruses, the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, and the VCHpresents chamber music series, the Singapore International Piano Festival and the biennial National Piano & Violin Competition.

The mission of the Group is to create memorable shared experiences with music. Through the SSO and its affiliated performing groups, we spread the love for music, nurture talent and enrich our diverse communities.