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Singapore Symphony Orchestra x The Straits Ensemble at the Temasek Foundation SSO National Day Concert 2023.

New Sights Fellowship Programme
FEB-AUG 2023

The New Sights Fellowship Programme is 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 premier their compositions with The Straits Ensemble and conclude the Fellowship by presenting what they have learnt at a public sharing platform. 

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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.

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"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"
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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. 

Rat in the City - The Ark Royal
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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.

 

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About Felix

2. ABOUT THE COMPOSER

 

Felix Phang

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 through thoughtful arrangements, like “The Shanghai Jazz Club” and New Orleans-style septet “Sidewalk Orleans”.

 

Known for his unconventional instrumentations that carry a distinctly Asian flavour paired with contemporary Western sound, Felix navigates tradition, change, and a confluence of cultures. In his most recent venture, 'The Straits Ensemble', he's delving into Singapore's rich musical heritage, creating a collection of compositions centered on the concepts of 'diversity' and 'relationships'.

These pieces are performed by ensembles featuring an array of both folk and Western instruments. Taking inspiration from The Silk Road Project, Felix is driven to communicate culture through his compositions, performances, and educational endeavors.

 

In 2015, Felix recorded his debut album “Seeing Sounds” of his original compositions with his 10-piece band, The Imaginary Forces, which 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 pieces “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 nominees Bill Frisell and Ron Miles.

 

Felix produced, composed, and arranged singer-songwriter Dawn Wong's 2016 Mandarin contemporary jazz album 'Marco Lopo', later touring Taiwan and playing at 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.

In 2023, Felix was commissioned by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra to compose a piece for the Temasek Foundation Singapore Symphony Orchestra National Day Concert, at the Esplanade Concert Hall. His piece, Pasat Merdu, featured cultural composition elements from the Chinese, Malay, and Indian music cultures in Singapore. Watch here.

 

Felix currently heads Pasat Merdu, a non-profit arts organisation championing intercultural arts. He holds an adjunct position at LASALLE College of the Arts, and mentors young composers in his own time. Felix also runs a ceramic studio, Weekender Worker, where he explores traditional craftsmanship from a contemporary perspective.

In his other life, Felix runs a pottery studio, WeekendWorker by ByFormation, with his friends.

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