by Anri Stenden
Did you know that the Singapore Conservatory, with its impressive all-glass frontage (see photo below), 80 sound-proof (and temperature controlled) practice studios, and a 600-seater concert hall, also boasts one of the largest recording studios in Asia? Opened in 2006, the Conservatory is known as the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM for short) and was renamed after receiving a more-than generous donation (about $50 million in total!) from the late Dr Yong Loo Lin. As a result, a number of students have been granted full scholarships to complete their studies at the prestigious and well-equipped institution. The school is responsible for training 220 of the most talented young musicians of the Asia-Pacific region.
In the picture below, Prof Piet (second to right) and Prof Hecht (far right) pose with the current director of the school, Prof Bernard Lanskey (middle, who is in fact a native Australian), Xua Dong (the piano technician, second to left) and the sound engineer (far left). The piano technician was always on hand during the three-day long recording session, in case anything needed to be re-tuned, adjusted or changed!
They also had a personal ‘chaperone’, a young BMus student who was assigned to page the piano music for Prof Hecht and to guide and accompany them in and around the Conservatory building. As Prof Piet said with amazement, “We never even needed to open a door or press a button for the elevator — she did just about everything! She always made sure I had three full bottles of water to drink during our recordings. And it was a golden learning opportunity, in my opinion. Not only did she have a very valuable job to do, she also witnessed and participated in the entire recording process.”
Whilst Prof Piet was at the Conservatory, he also saw a brand new Bösendorfer piano delivered, despite the fact that the music school was known as a ‘Steinway’ school. And why was a beautiful Bösendorfer presented to the school? Because a certain unknown individual (who had recently purchased the same brand of piano for his wife) thought that it was such a fantastic instrument and he wanted the school to have one too! How very lucky!
Prof Piet and Prof Hecht recorded works by Dvarionas, Vasks, Kancheli and Pärt for a CD entitled Baltic & Beyond, and it is expected to be released internationally on the Delos label in 2017.