Sunday, 11 March 2012

We Remember MR TAN BOON TEIK, Honorary Chairman of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

Another illustrious member of Singapore's classical music fraternity has left us. We remember Mr TAN BOON TEIK, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's founding Chairman, who passed away peacefully on 10 March 2012. He was 83 years old. Mr Tan was Singapore's Attorney-General (from 1969-1992), when he was approached along with Prof. Bernard Tan by then Minister of Defence Dr Goh Keng Swee to form Singapore's first professional symphony orchestra. In 1979, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra gave its first concerts, and Mr Tan served as its Chairman till 1999, when he became its Honorary Chairman (with Prof. Cham Tao Soon assuming the Chairman's role).

Mr Tan was a true lover of good music and regularly attended SSO concerts long after leaving the SSO Board, and despite his failing health. He and his wife had attended the last SSO concert on Saturday 3 March, with Marc-Andre Hamelin performing Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto. He actively sought to bring good music to Singapore, including inviting the publisher-turned-conductor Gilbert Kaplan to conduct the Singapore premiere of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony in 1994. In his capacity as Singapore Ambassador to Austria and Hungary, he was instrumental in bringing opera productions of Mozart's Don Giovanni (Budapest National Opera) and Mozart's Cosi fan tutte (Graz Opera) to Singapore.

He was also a more than competent amateur pianist, who performed the third piano part alongside Dennis Lee and Toh Chee Hung in Mozart's Triple Piano Concerto (K.242) with the SSO conducted by Choo Hoey. An LP recording of that performance helped raise $1 million for the SSO. Pianomania is also proud that he was the first pianist to perform at the first SSO Piano Marathon held at Raffles City Atrium in 1998. At 70 years old, he holds the record of being the oldest performer in all of SSO's music marathons. On that Saturday morning, he played Chopin's Waltz in A flat major "Adieu", poetically the fitting tribute to a gentleman who truly and passionately loved music.

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