Core Modules


Taking inspiration from the Materials and Design galleries at Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), including the first (available for viewing virtually on acm.org.sg) and current displays in the Fashion and Textiles gallery, as well as the Jewellery gallery, musicians from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music’s (YST) “Text and Music” class have created six unique musical movements in response to a piece of history or culture. Curated by Dr Chen Zhangyi and Dr Sara Florian, this musical suite intricately interweaves ACM’s objects with the talent and creativity of YST musicians.

WARES and WAVES is a collaborative project created by YST's Text and Music class (2020) in response to the Tang Shipwreck Collection housed at the ACM (Asian Civilisations Museum). Curated by myself and Dr Sara Florian, the project features musical Waves corresponding to the lines of Florian's new poem "Wares", inspired by poetry of the Tang dynasty (618–907) and the Tang Shipwreck. Discovered in 1998 off the coast of Belitung Island in the Java Sea, the recovered cargo provides evidence of interactions between past cultures in Asia and the Middle East and serves as a fascinating resource for this musical creation.

The collaboration with the ACM interweaves poetry, music composed and improvised by the students, and images of the Tang Shipwreck cargo and modern Singapore. The work was originally presented on 13 November 2020 through the ACM Facebook page.

KAMPUNG DRAMA was inspired by Liu Kang's painting "Life By The River" housed at the National Gallery. This is a collaborative project created by YST's 'Text and Music' class (2019) performed at the gallery's 'Resonates With' series. 



A piece created by students in YST’s Counterpoint Through the Ages class, in response to the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings and in memory of the victims. As the study of musical counterpoint examines the relationship between multiple musical lines in harmony, an extension of that relationship may be reimagined as the coexistence of a multitude of voices, cultures, and identities - interwoven as a social and musical fabric.


The piece was created through a series of structured improvisations based on a collaboratively worked-out plan by musicians of diverse backgrounds in the class. Each musician was invited to create a short motive reflecting their own personal identity, in preparation for tutti improvisations based on those personal motives. Individual layers play a part in shaping the larger polyphony and cacophony of voices.


In eight distinct sections, a series of emotional states unfolds - akin to the stages of grief. Percussive 'gunshots' are punctuated through the piece, sonically conjuring the tragic incident. Through this piece, we hope to raise consciousness towards a peaceful coexistence of diverse peoples and cultures.

00:00 I. Chaos

01:23 II. Unease

02:30 III. Grief

03:38 IV. Hope

04:55 V. Anxiety

05:57 VI. Suspense

07:08 VII. Anger

08:15 VIII. Acceptance

MUSICAL CONCEPTS AND MATERIALS (MUT1101) co-taught with Adeline Wong and Karst De Jong






Special Projects


Ms Suu Kyi (in green) speaking to the musicians after the concert, with Mr Saw (far left) and Asst. Prof

Chen (2nd from right) looking on


Originally published on NUS NEWS

01 September 2016

Bonding with music


Students from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM) at NUS gave a resounding performance together with a Myanmar orchestra and traditional Myanmar ensemble in two concerts at Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon. Held on 22 and 24 August respectively, the concerts organised by the Singapore Embassy in Yangon, marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Myanmar.

The concert repertoire was selected to represent several genres, from Western classical music to traditional Myanmar songs, as well as pieces specially composed by Assistant Professor Chen Zhangyi from YSTCM and Burmese cellist Mr Saw James Hsar Doe Soe. Mr Saw is the first Burmese alumnus to graduate from the Conservatory. “The project was such a great experience because I not only took on the role of a musician, but also became an ambassador of the music between our two countries,” said Mr Saw, a co-conductor, who was very pleased with the outcome.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Foreign Minister, and Burmese dignitaries as well as Mr Robert Chua, Singapore’s Ambassador to Myanmar, attended the concert in Nay Pyi Taw. The concert in Yangon was broadcast live on national television.

Asst Prof Chen, co-conductor of the concerts, said, “It was a rare opportunity for us to perform for Ms Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw. At the end of the concert, she even came up to the stage to speak to the musicians. We also really enjoyed the response of the audience at Yangon.”

Summing up the joint performance, Year 2 YSTCM student Gabriel Hoe remarked, “It was truly one unique sound. The combination of a traditional saing waing ensemble and a Western orchestra was indeed refreshing. What more can you ask for, when you get to perform in such a show while making music with newfound friends from Myanmar?”

By Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music