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Beautiful Sunday Online Episode 3: King of Instruments

Phoon Yu + Lau Wen Rong + Dr Evelyn Lim


Published: 2 Nov 2020

Time taken : >15mins

Premieres on 8 Nov, Sun, 3pm

In this episode, Beautiful Sunday Online shines the spotlight on the majestic pipe organ, dubbed the “king of instruments” by none other than Mozart himself.

You’ll be surprised by the age-old instrument’s range and versatility. While its showstopping grandeur comes through in works like Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 545, along comes a contemporary classical work like Piece for Organ and Trumpet, written by Singapore composer Phoon Yu, the jaunty sounds of which prove the pipe organ to be capable of some fun.

Find out how a young musician like Phoon discovered an instrument invented over 2,000 years ago, and watch him perform with trumpeter Lau Wen Rong. Also on display are all the rich and complex features and quirks of Singapore’s largest pipe organ, housed in the beautiful Esplanade Concert Hall.

Fun fact #1: The organist doesn’t just play on the keys, he also "plays" on the pedal board, with his feet. He makes music by operating a dazzling array of stops and levers.

Fun fact #2: Three storeys. That is the height of the Esplanade’s pipe organ. Different levels contain different types of pipes.

Fun fact #3: The organ can create different sound effects, including the sound of a thunderstorm and a “Harley Davidson” motorbike!

Esplanade’s pipe organ master Dr Evelyn Lim will also take you on a "tour" of this massive and intricate instrument.

Beautiful Sunday was launched by Esplanade in 2003 at the height of the SARS crisis to encourage Singaporeans to return to arts venues for live performances. Held once a month on a Sunday, it offers the opportunity for all to enjoy a series of free community concerts in the Esplanade Concert Hall. Since its introduction, the programme has drawn almost 20,000 attendees every year. For the first time in almost two decades, Beautiful Sunday arrives in a new online edition featuring artists and ensembles performing their own originals or evergreen favourites.

Phoon Yu + Lau Wen Rong + Dr Evelyn Lim

Set List

In order of performance

Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 545
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Phoon Yu

Piece for Organ and Trumpet
Written by Phoon Yu
Performed by Phoon Yu and Lau Wen Rong

Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme (Awake, The Voice Is Calling Us), BWV 645
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Phoon Yu

Chorale No. 3 in A Minor
Written by César Auguste Franck
Performed by Phoon Yu

As an organist, Phoon Yu is active in Singapore and the United States, having played in multiple venues in those countries as well as the Netherlands. Recent concerts include his performances at the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine in New York City, St David’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore, as well as at St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Concert Hall at Esplanade. His performance career is supplemented by his composing and arranging ability, with works for various solo instruments and ensembles premiered in Singapore, China and the United States. Notable premieres include his Piece for Organ and Trumpet (2017), and his arrangements for Spot Pocket Opera Theatre’s The Silent Front project (2020).

Phoon Yu is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Paul Jacobs. Previously, he did his Bachelors of Music in music composition at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, before doing his Masters of Music in organ performance at the Peabody Institute, being awarded the Bruce R. Eicher prize for organ there. Previous teachers include Professor Donald Sutherland and Dr Evelyn Lim (organ) and Associate Professor Ho Chee Kong and Dr Oscar Bettison (composition).

Section Trumpet of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and prize winner of the International Trumpet Guild (ITG) Solo Competition, Lau Wen Rong completed his Master’s Degree with Raymond Mase at The Juilliard School under the Frieda and Harry Aronson Scholarship.

Wen Rong received his Bachelor of Music Degree from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music of the National University of Singapore, where he was awarded a full merit scholarship. His competition successes include 2nd place at the Pan-Asian soloist competition at Brass Explosion 2012, 2nd place in the prestigious Norman Cooper Chamber Music Competition held in Aberdeen (Brass Polish) and 1st place at the Singapore International Band Festival (Orchestra Collective).

Wen Rong has appeared with the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra. He has also participated in music festivals such as the Pacific Music Festival in Japan and was selected as a Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival in 2015. As an active chamber musician, he has performed with award-winning brass ensemble, Brass Polish (Singapore) and various other brass quintets in Singapore, taking part in outreach activities and bringing the joy of music to the public.

Wen Rong is a recipient of the 2015 RI-Darrell Ang Young Musicians’ Foundation Scholarship, Trailblazer Foundation Study Grant and National Arts Council Capability Development Grant. Wen Rong has studied with Jon Dante, Mark Gould, Joe Burgstaller, William Theis and Tay Jiun Ngiap. Wen Rong is currently on the faculty at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and he is a Yamaha Artist.

Evelyn Lim is Pipe Organ Master at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. She is also Director of Music / Organ Instructor at Methodist School of Music, and Adjunct instructor at Dulwich College (Singapore) and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. As the founding and current Dean of the Singapore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, she leads a team of enthusiastic organists and volunteers in planning community workshops, music camps, masterclasses and concerts involving both local and international performers and artists.

As a soloist and collaborative musician, she has performed with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Choruses, at the VCH Organ Series and Esplanade’s Tapestry of Sacred Music series, among others. She has also played concerts in Malaysia with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and in Europe, Korea, the USA, and Canada.  

Evelyn earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), and the Master and Bachelor of Music degrees in music at the University of Houston (Texas).

Beautiful Sunday Online
The online edition of the Beautiful Sunday concerts, a series of free concerts by homegrown music groups that offers everyone the opportunity to enjoy musical performances in the Esplanade Concert Hall.
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