New Sights Fellowship Programme
The Straits Ensemble is calling for applications from emerging music composers for their inaugural Fellowship Programme, New Sights, to be held from February to August 2023. New Sights is a Fellowship Programme designed for composers to create new intercultural work, with a focus on the process towards creation. Fellows will go through a rigorous programme of talks, performances, lectures, site visits and mentorship. They will then premiere their compositions with The Straits Ensemble and conclude the Fellowship by presenting what they have learnt at a public sharing platform.
The Straits Ensemble
The Straits Ensemble is a musical collective that champions Singapore cultural music changes, influenced by the ever-changing global music landscape with jazz sensibilities.
With an instrumentation that embodies' Singapore's cultural sound, The Straits Ensemble navigates the rich tapestry of Singapore's heritage and taps on a global kampung spirit to celebrate diversity.
Playing a repertoire of original compositions, reimagined folk tunes and more, the ensemble's range of expression run from tender nuances to high energy, driving rhythms.
"Beneath the Surface" Promotional Video
String Quartet, Oud, Sanxian & Percussion
The Straits Ensemble
"Light a Thousand Candles"
The Straits Ensemble
Excerpt of "Let the Children Play"
THE ARK ROYAL
Sextet the Ark Royal defies conventional genre classification with its brand of original Mandarin jazz/folk/rock/pop music.
The band's debut album of curious stories about animals and vegetables earned positive reviews in the local press, but was denied radio airplay for not being suited to mainstream ears.
IMAGINARY FORCES - EARTH & ROOTS
A special feature of “Beneath the Surface” is the making of musical instruments specifically for this project. Together with ceramic artists Steven Low and Ivan Lee, Felix will create ceramic instruments for a ceramic instrument section that will form part of the performance ensemble.
IMAGINARY FORCES x YOUNG COMPOSERS
Composer Felix Phang teams up with young composers he has mentored through the Hummingbird Internship Programme, to present new works written for and performed by The Imaginary Forces. This project will feature a special lineup of flutes, clarinets, violin, oud, piano, guitar, bass and percussion.
2. ABOUT THE COMPOSER
Ba. Music (with Honors)
Berklee College of Music
Born and raised in a typical middle-class family in Singapore, Felix trained privately to play classical violin,
while playing trombone in his secondary school concert band. At the age of 17, he was one of 6 Singaporean
representatives at the Sydney Olympics, performing in the combined Olympics band. While reading Jazz
Composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA, Felix picked up the double bass, which has now
become his primary instrument. He also plays the steel pan and electric bass guitar.
Since returning from the USA in 2008, Felix has established himself as a musician of note, performing and recording for many diversely different bands including gypsy jazz trio “The Lost Tribe” and world music outfit “Qilin Group” touring internationally and performing at festivals like Java Jazz and Singapore International Jazz Festival. As a bandleader, he has put together groups to capture authentic sounds from eras gone through thoughtful arrangements, like “The Shanghai Jazz Club” and New Orleans-style septet “Sidewalk Orleans”.
Known for his unconventional instrumentations that carry a distinct Asian flavour paired with contemporary western sound, Felix is navigating tradition, change and a confluence of cultures. In his latest project 'The Straits Ensemble', he seeks to make sense of his environment by exploring the cultural musical landscape of Singapore with a suite of music composed around the themes of ‘diversity’ and ‘relationships’ for ensembles comprising various folk and western instruments. Inspired by The Silk Road Project, Phang is motivated to share culture through composition, performance and education.
In 2015, Felix recorded his debut album “Seeing Sounds” of his original compositions with his 10-piece band, The Imaginary Forces, that drew praise from his contemporaries and support from the National Arts Council of Singapore. Felix’s work has been presented at international music festivals and his piece “49 Days” and "Light a Thousand Candles" were selected to be featured as part of the New Music Workshops 2017 & 2019 International Jazz Composers’ Symposium organized by the International Society of Jazz Arrangers & Composers (ISJAC) in the USA. Felix presented his original work ‘49 Days’ at the 2017 ISJAC clinic facilitated by Grammy Award-winning composer Billy Childs and "Light a Thousand Candles" at the 2019 ISJAC clinic facilitated by Grammy nominee Bill Frisell and Ron Miles.
Felix produced, composed and arranged on singer-songwriter Dawn Wong's 2016 mandarin contemporary jazz album 'Marco Lopo', later touring Taiwan and playing Singapore festivals as music director. With its distinct nanyang flavour bearing hints of the multicultural metropolis of Singapore, this collection of original tunes drew inspiration from innocence and the imagination to create a world where rabbits can captain ships and vegetables dance the samba. More details at https://www.dawnwong.sg/marco-lopo.
Felix currently heads the 150-strong Music & Drama Company, producing both live and digital content for Singaporeans and high-profile government events. He also holds an adjunct position at LASALLE College of the Arts, and mentors young writers in his own time.
For leisure and inspiration, Felix indulges in pottery at his compact home studio.