Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO), inaugurated in 1997, is Singapore’s only professional national Chinese orchestra. SCO, made up of more than 80 musicians, occupies the Singapore Conference Hall, which is a national monument. With Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as its patron, SCO takes on the twin role of preserving traditional arts and culture and establishing its unique identity through the incorporation of Southeast Asian cultural elements in its music.
SCO has impressed a broadening audience with its blockbuster presentations and is fast establishing itself around the world. In 2002, it staged a symphonic fantasy epic Marco Polo and Princess Blue as part of the opening festival of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. The following year, SCO produced a musical and visual conversation with Singapore’s most eminent multi-disciplinary artist Tan Swie Hian at the Singapore Arts Festival 2003. SCO celebrated Singapore’s 39th National Day in 2004 with a spectacular concert – Our People, Our Music – featuring 2,400 local music enthusiasts at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. In 2005, it produced a mega musical production, Admiral of the Seven Seas, as part of the Singapore Arts Festival 2005. In 2007, SCO was part of the 240-strong combined orchestra that performed at the Singapore National Day Parade. In the Singapore Arts Festival 2008, SCO joined hands with Theatreworks to present the ground-breaking production Awaking, which brought together Kunqu opera music and Elizabethan music. In 2009, SCO made history by becoming the first Chinese orchestra to perform in the opening week of the Edinburgh Festival, and in 2010, performed in Paris as part of the Singapour Festivarts.
Well-known for its high performance standards and versatility, SCO has performed at numerous prestigious events such as the World Economic Forum and International Summit of Arts Council in 2003, and the 2006 International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meeting.
SCO has toured various countries and cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Nanjing, Suzhou, Macau, Hungary and England. Recently in May 2014, SCO performed at the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival and in Suzhou to celebrate the Singapore-Suzhou Industrial Park’s 20th anniversary. In October 2015, SCO performed two concerts in Hong Kong at the Tsuen Wan Town Hall and Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Commissioned by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth as part of the Titian Budaya Singapore cultural season in Kuala Lumpur, SCO also held its debut concert in Malaysia at the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. These international platforms provided SCO with the opportunities to showcase its talents and music, propelling it to the forefront of the international music arena.
With its vision to be a world-renowned people’s orchestra, SCO widens its outreach by performing regularly at various national parks, communities and schools. SCO also commissions its own compositions and organised the Singapore International Competition for Chinese Orchestral Composition (SICCOC) in 2006, 2011 and 2015 respectively. The competition aims to promote compositions that incorporate music elements from Southeast Asia, also known as “Nanyang music”. In 2012, SCO organised Singapore’s first 23-day National Chinese Orchestra Marathon, a spectacular feat that drew the participation of 31 local Chinese orchestras which participated with over 44 performances and an audience of 20,000. On 28 June 2014, SCO created history through the second instalment of Our People Our Music by creating two Guinness World Records and three Singapore Book of Records with 4,557 performers at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub. It is with this vision that SCO continues to inspire, influence, educate and communicate through its music.