These are hard days for the world, and the arts are not an exception. With the present riddled with uncertainties, it might be a struggle for many of us to see very far into the future, and it might be even harder to see any light shining beyond the hurdles: thankfully the younger generation has risen to the challenge, now more than ever, to teach us that there is so much to look forward to. The voices of tomorrow are every day proving more and more to be smart, compassionate and so very talented. 

Among those that are already making waves in their own right, deftly adapting to the ever-changing shapes of today's performing arts field, is 13-year old violinist Chloe Chua.

Chloe Chua rehearsing with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra
© Singapore Symphony Orchestra

Despite her young age, Chloe has already an impressive curriculum vitae of competition victories and professional performances behind her, and recently performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 2 with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Hans Graf. The performance will be streamed online from 4th-18th December for audiences worldwide, but the musicians are playing together, appropriately masked or distanced, on the stage of the Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore. 

When we interviewed Graf earlier this month, he said of Chloe, among other things: “I strongly refuse to call her a Wunderkind. She's a normal, nice, modest girl, a little bit shy, but when she speaks with her violin, she's a grown-up. She's an adult musical soul. And she's the quickest pro I have worked with in a while.’” 

We were curious to find out more about such a young and talented artist, so we went on a little video journey through some of her best performances to date.

Chloe started studying violin at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) in Singapore when she was only four years old, after a brief stint playing the piano when she was even younger. Encouraged by her parents' love for music – her mother is a piano teacher – she soon became very passionate about the instrument. Her hard work and skills led her to participate in several international competitions, including the Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition in Italy, which she won in 2017, and the Menuhin Competition, in Switzerland, which she won in 2018, sharing joint first prize in the Junior Division with Australian Christian Li.

Here is her performance of Vivaldi's Winter during the closing gala at the Menuhin Competition in Geneva.

Another beautiful performance comes in the shape of an outdoor concert with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, as her December one won't be Chloe's first experience sharing the stage with this world-class ensemble. Here she is playing a Fantasy on Bizet's Carmen during the orchestra's Mother's Day concert last year.

When people talk about the future of classical music, it always feels like such an abstract concept, one that is peppered with apocalyptic tales of empty concert halls and young audiences no longer interested in the good ol' repertoire. The truth is, however, that you don't have to look very hard to discover many young musicians interested in classical music – although maybe to find them one has to hang around in slightly different spaces from those you'd expect. 

Youtube superstars TwoSet Violin – namely Australian Brett Yang and Eddy Chen – are a violinist duo with a tally of nearly 3 million subscribers under their belt. Their unique brand of virtuosity and comedy has made them a household name among budding musicians, and earlier this year they invited none other than Chloe to give them a masterclass on how to play one of the trickiest pieces in the repertoire: the Paganiniana. In the funny – yet masterful – video, the duo is mesmerised by the young violinist's skill while quipping about the piece in their usual relaxed style. Chloe proves to be a patient teacher and the three get along like a house on fire. 

Going back to the concert hall and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Chloe seems right at home in this rehearsal video for a hauntingly beautiful Méditation by Massenet.  

Another gem comes from an informal performance from the comfort of her own home. Here Chloe plays Richard Wagner's Albumblatt, her joyful smile quickly followed by intense concentration and virtuosic playing. 

It was Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor that was selected for her concert at the Atlanta Festival Academy concert, in its 2019 inaugural edition. Chloe performs it skilfully, in her usual calm yet soulful and expressive style, together with the Festival String Orchestra under the baton of Huifang Chen.

Last but not least, we couldn't leave out this socially distanced version of the Largo from Bach's Double Violin Concerto, as performed with Japanese-Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, everyone tuning in from their own homes. 

Chloe's practice routine can take between three and six hours a day, but make no mistake: her life is not that different from any other bubbly and busy 13-years old. She enjoys listening to jazz, watching TV and films, drawing, reading – she is quoted calling The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan her favourite book – while swimming, jogging and skateboarding seem to be her sports of choice. When trying her hand at cooking, her favourite foods seem to be breakfast-themed, as she has said she enjoys making pancakes and fried eggs. She has just finished her PSLE (the primary school final exam in Singapore) but still gets a chance to be social and meet friends at her NAFA String Ensemble practice. She recently worked on her recording session with the SSO for the upcoming online concert, A Little Mozart with Chloe Chua, and of course she never stops learning new repertoire – including one of her favourites, Tchaikovsky – as her diary for next year is already filling up. 

Chloe Chua rehearsing with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra
© Singapore Symphony Orchestra

We should all take a moment to close our eyes and listen to the voices of tomorrow. With such a joyful and hopeful soundtrack, it's hard not to be optimistic.

Listen to Chloe Chua perform Mozart with the Singapore Symphony and Hans Graf on SISTIC Live on 4th December.

This article was sponsored by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.