Friday, 30 November 2012

Singaporean Soldier Wins Asia-Pacific International Chopin Piano Competition in Daegu, South Korea


It is well known that many young Singaporean men find it an obstacle to pursue a professional musical career because their musical studies are inevitably disrupted by compulsory military national service which takes up two years of their formative lives. That is not to mention life as an NSman (or reservist) for 13 years post-National Service, if they happen to be medics, signallers or holding vocations unrelated to the Music and Drama Company.

Because of this, some Singaporean musicians, notably pianist Melvyn Tan, had defaulted on National Service in order to pursue an uninterrupted musical careers overseas. (He was later arrested when he returned to Singapore in 2005 to visit his ageing parents, and had to pay a fine in addition.) 

However in October this year, Shaun Choo, a 21-year-old Singaporean soldier serving his national service as an Administrative Support Assistant (Rank of Corporal) in the Signals Headquarters of the Singapore Armed Forces, won 1st prize at the 2nd Asia-Pacific International Chopin Piano Competition in Daegu, South Korea.

Shaun Choo disrupted his studies at the Salzburg Mozarteum (where he studied with the late eminent pedagogue Karl-Heinz K√§mmerling) to perform national service in 2011. After completing Basic Military Training, he found time to practise the piano and accumulated sufficient leave in order to participate in Chopin Competition in Korea. He even had enough leave to complete a concert tour in Poland after his win. Choo is grateful to his army unit and its officers for supporting his dream to perform the piano. He is a good example of how true artistry is compatible with military duties, and what one can achieve when you put your mind to it despite the seemingly overwhelming odds. 

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