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Music

Bernard Tan Tiong Gie

Western classical composer and musician.

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Published: 12 Oct 2016


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Bernard Tan Tiong Gie is a Physics professor and composer who has made significant contributions to both the fields of science and music in Singapore. While engaged in nurturing scientific research and talent in his various academic posts, he has continually developed his music, building a repertoire of compositions that include works for orchestral, chamber and choral music. He has also served in various capacities for several arts bodies and events in Singapore including the National Arts Council, Ministry of Culture and the Singapore Arts Festival. For his contributions to music and the arts in Singapore, Tan received honours such as the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Lintang) (Public Service Star [Bar]) and the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal).

Born in 1943 in Singapore, Bernard Tan received his early education at Anglo-Chinese School. He then attended the University of Singapore and graduated with Honours in Physics in 1965, subsequently obtaining a D.Phil. in Engineering Science at Oxford University in the UK in 1968. At the same time, he received his Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music in pianoforte in 1962 and become an Associate of the Trinity College of Music, London in pianoforte two years later.

Tan embarked on an academic career, working at the University of Singapore as a Physics lecturer that same year. His career in the university saw him rise to become the Dean of Science and then the Head of Physics. At the university, Tan began his official involvement with music as the conductor of the University choir and as a committee member in the Singapore Musical Society. He went on to obtain a Licentiate-in-Music from the Trinity College of Music, London and became the acting head of the Department of Music in the university.

Tan built himself a reputation as an accomplished musician and composer. He steadily created a repertoire of works encompassing a wide variety of musical forms, composing orchestral, chamber and choral music. He also composed music for ballets, musicals and a play, and songs with words by Singapore poets Lee Tzu Pheng and Edwin Thumboo. Many of his works were commissioned, premiered and performed by numerous organisations and individuals including Singapore violinist Lynnette Seah, the Singapore Youth Orchestra and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

A keen supporter of the arts, Tan contributed his service to several arts organisations, starting by serving as chairman of the Choral Music Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Culture for eight years starting from 1977. He went on to chair the Music Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Culture, the steering committee of the Singapore Arts Festival, the organising committee of Sing Singapore, and the Arts Consultative Panel of the Media Development Authority. Tan was also a co-founding director of the Singapore Arts Centre Co. Ltd and a member of the Singapore Arts Centre steering committee, which oversaw the development and building of Esplanade – Theatre on the Bay. At the National University of Singapore, Tan also served as associate director of the Centre for Musical Activities and the chair of the steering committee of the National University of Singapore Institute of the Arts which led to the establishment of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

In 2010, he received the Long Service Award at the National Day Awards and the Meritorious Award from the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore and in 2011 he was made a Fellow of the Singapore National Academy of Science.

Outside of the arts, Tan is a UK Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in Singapore and the UK. He chaired the Science and Technology Committee of the Singapore Youth Awards and the Singapore Section of the Audio Engineering Society. He also served as president of the Institute of Physics, Singapore and as vice-president of the Singapore National Academy of Science.

Today, Tan continues to pursue his passion for the arts and science. He currently serves as the director of the Centre for Maritime Studies at the National University of Singapore, and chairs the Choral Development Secretariat of the National Arts Council and the Artistic Advisory Committee of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Images courtesy of Professor Bernard Tan Tiong Gie and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Timeline

18 May 1943

Born in Singapore.

1950 to 1961

Attended Anglo-Chinese School.

1962

Received Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music in pianoforte.

1962 to 1965

Attended University of Singapore and graduated with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Physics.

1964

Associate of Trinity College of Music London in pianoforte.

1965

Received Prize for First Class Honours, University of Singapore.

Apr 1965 to Sep 1965

Teacher, Anglo-Chinese School.

1966 to 1968

Attended Oxford University, UK on a Commonwealth Scholarship. Graduated with a Ph.D in Electronics.

1968 to 1976

Lecturer (Physics), University of Singapore.

1970 to 1972

Conductor, University of Singapore Choir.

1972

Became a UK Chartered Engineer.

1972 to Present

Member, Institution of Electrical Engineers, UK.

1972 to Present

Member, Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers, UK.

1975 to 1980

Committee Member, Singapore Musical Society, University of Singapore.

1976 to 1982

Senior Lecturer (Physics), University of Singapore.

1976

Received Licentiate-in-Music in Theory of Music, Trinity College of Music, London, UK.

1977 to 1978

Acting Head, Department of Music, National University of Singapore.

1977 to 1985

Chairman, Choral Music Advisory Committee, Ministry of Culture, Singapore.

1979 to Present

Member, Board of Directors, Singapore Symphonia Company Limited.

1979 to 1985

Vice-Dean of Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore.

1979 to Present

Member, Board of Directors, Singapore Symphonia Company Limited.

1979 to 1992

Associate Director, Centre for Musical Activities, National University of Singapore.

1982

Received Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal).

1979 to Present

Member, Board of Directors, Singapore Symphonia Company Limited.

1982 to 2000

Associate Professor in Physics, National University of Singapore.

1982 to 2003

Member, Board of Directors, Keppel Corporation.

1985

Composer, Little Things, a choral work for Anglo-Chinese Junior College.

Jul 1985 to Jun 1997

Dean of Science, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore.

1985 to 1992

Chairman, Music Advisory Committee, Ministry of Culture, Singapore.

1985 to 1995

Vice-chairman, Choral Advisory Committee, Ministry of Education, Singapore.

1987 to 1998

Member, Board of Directors, Singapore Dance Theatre.

1987 to Present

Chairman, Keppel Group Cooperative Credit Union.

1988

Awarded the Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Academique.

1989

Composer, Symphony No. 1.

1990

Received Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Star).
Named Fellow, Trinity College of Music, London, UK in composition.
Named Fellow, Institute of Physics, Singapore.

1990 to 1995

Resource panel member, Government Parliamentary Committee on Education, Singapore.

1991

Orchestral arranger, One Moment in Time, performed by Kay Hamid, Economic Development Board 30th Anniversary Celebration, Singapore.

1991

Composer, Nightpiece, a choral work for Anglo-Chinese Junior College.

1991 to Aug 1999

Council member, National Arts Council, Singapore.

1991 to 2005

Member, Board of Directors, CSA Holdings.

1992 to Dec 1998

Co-founding director, Singapore Arts Centre Co Ltd.

1993

Received Pingat Pentadbiran Awam (Perak) (Public Administration Medal [Silver]).
Member, Steering Committee, Singapore Arts Centre.

1994 to Present

Chairman, Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing.

1995 to 1999

Board member, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore.

1995 to 2001

Board member, National Library Board, Singapore.

1996 to 2004

Chairman, Organising Committee, Sing Singapore, National Arts Council, Singapore.

1996 to 2004

Chairman, Organising Committee, Sing Singapore, National Arts Council, Singapore.

1996 to 2004

Chairman, Organising Committee, Sing Singapore, National Arts Council, Singapore.

1996 to 2004

Chairman, Organising Committee, Sing Singapore, National Arts Council, Singapore.

1996 to 2005

Member, Singapore Youth Awards Panel, National Youth Council.
Chairman, Science and Technology Committee, Singapore Youth Awards, National Youth Council.

1997 to 2004

Chairman, Steering Committee, Singapore Arts Festival.

Jul 1997 to Jan 1998

Head, Department of Physics, National University of Singapore.

Jul 1997 to Oct 1998

Director, Office of Student Affairs, National University of Singapore.

15 Oct 1998 to 31 Dec 2002

Dean of Students, National University of Singapore.

1998 to 1999

Chairman, Institute of the Arts Steering Committee, National University of Singapore.

1999

Composer of Sinfonietta No. 4, which was premiered by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Lan Shui.

1999 to 2001

Advisor, National Anthem project, Ministry of Information and the Arts, Singapore.
Chairman, Arts Civic Group, National Library Board, Singapore.

2000 to Present

Professor in Physics, National University of Singapore.

2000 to 2002

Member, Public Education Committee on Family, Ministry of Community Development and Sports, Singapore.
Chairman, Action Group on Youth, Educational and Uniformed Institutions, Ministry of Community Development and Sports, Singapore.

2000 to 2004

President, Institute of Physics, Singapore.
Vice-president, Singapore National Academy of Science.

2001

Received Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Lintang) (Public Service Star [Bar]).

2002

Composer of Piano Concerto, which was performed by Toh Chee Hung and Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lan Shui.
Named Fellow, Institute of Physics, UK.

2002 to 2009

Chairman, Arts Research & Development Panel, National Arts Council, Singapore.

2002 to Present

Chairman, Singapore Synchrotron Light Source.

2000 to 2004

President, Institute of Physics, Singapore.
Vice-president, Singapore National Academy of Science.

2003 to Present

Chairman, National Advisory Committee on Laboratory Animal Research, Singapore.

6 Jan 2003

Composer Piano Concerto, premiered by Toh Chee Hung and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lan Shui.

2004

Composer of music album A Classical Overture, Piano Concerto, Symphony No. 1. It was performed by Toh Chee Hung and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lan Shui.

2004 to 2006

Chairman, Arts Consultative Panel, Media Development Authority, Singapore.

2005

Received The IPS President’s Medal, Institute of Physics, Singapore.

Jun 2005 to 2007

Chairman, Audio Engineering Society of Singapore.

2010

Received Long Service Award, National Day Awards, Singapore.
Received Meritorious Award, Composers and Authors Society of Singapore.

2011

Named Fellow of the Singapore National Academy of Singapore.

2012 to Present

Chairman, Artistic Advisory Committee, Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

18 Jan 2013

Composer of Guitar Concerto, which was commissioned by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and performed by Kevin Loh, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Lan Shui.


TributeSG

TributeSG celebrates the arts community’s most senior members, and those who have made a lifetime of contribution to the arts. These artists, administrators, educators, patrons, and champions include many Singapore arts pioneers who laid the foundations of the vibrant arts and cultural scene we enjoy today. The many profiles in TributeSG let us into the minds and worlds of these pioneers, and help us understand our shared arts heritage. When we revisit their works and rediscover their journeys, we learn where we came from and how we came to be. Collectively, their stories tell the tale of the making of a nation’s artistic identity.

In putting together this collection, the TributeSG team consulted an external advisory panel, consisting of Arun Mahiznan, Choo Thiam Siew, J. P. Nathan, K. K. Seet, Kwok Kian Chow, and Iskandar Ismail. Those selected to be profiled in TributeSG met one of the following criteria: they were at least 60 years of age as of 12 Oct 2016, or deceased, or had received national recognition in the form of the Cultural Medallion. This journey of arts archival officially came to a close on 12 Oct 2016, after four years of extensive research, interviews and collation of information graciously provided by the TributeSG pioneers, their families and peers. TributeSG also benefited from enthusiastic help from like-minded friends and organisations who supported Esplanade’s cause—to remember, honour and celebrate Singapore’s arts pioneers.

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