Quek Ling Kiong is the first Principal Conductor of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) to have been born and bred in Singapore. Widely hailed as the “People’s Conductor”, he has more than 25 years of professional musical experience under his belt. He assumed the role of Principal Conductor in 2023, after a decade as its Resident Conductor.
He began his journey with the SCO in 1997 as its Percussion Principal after graduatingfrom the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. A rising star, Quek went on to earn the Singapore National Arts Council’s (NAC) prestigious Young Artist Award in 2002. As his focus shifted to conducting, he became SCO’s first Conducting Assistant in 2003, before heading to the Zurich University of the Arts where he obtained a diploma in advanced studies in 2008. He took up the baton as the SCO’s Associate Conductor upon returning.
Quek is active in the international music scene, with a robust reputation beyond Singapore’s shores. He has guest-conducted esteemed Chinese orchestras such as the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, Guangdong Chinese Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. He also conducted symphony orchestras in the Czech Republic during a residency in Europe. Well-versed in the musical cultures of East and West, he counts maestros Tay Teow Kiat, Xia Feiyun, Tsung Yeh, Johannes Schlaefli, and Kirk Trevor among his diverse mentors.
Besides helming one of the world’s leading Chinese orchestras, Quek is also passionate about education. He is the Music Director of the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra (SNYCO) and has conducted it since 2004, taking it on tours to the Tainan International Arts Festival, Hsinchu Chinese Music Festival, and other cities. As Principal Guest Conductor of Singapore’s Ding Yi Music Company (2016-2022), he also conceptualised the Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival and the composition festival Composium.
Quek is known for his bold, charismatic approach to conducting and bringing Chinese orchestral music to the masses through innovative programmes and storytelling. He led the SCO ensemble in sold-out and acclaimed shows such as the Young Children’s Concert, Young People’s Concert, Mother’s Day Concert, and Concert-In-Progress. In line with his desire to bring music to all, he became the Artistic Director of Singapore and Hong Kong’s largest inclusive orchestras –The Purple Symphony and True Colors Symphony– in 2015 and 2019 respectively.
His achievements have garnered him accolades such as the NAC Cultural Fellowship (2013) and the Meritorious Award by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (2016). The Quek Ling Kiong Arts and Culture Scholarship was also established at the Singapore Management University in 2019 in honour of his contributions to the arts.