Nurturing Generations Of Singaporean Musicians
Vivien Goh and her father dedicated their lives to nurturing generations of Singaporean musicians. With the Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award, their passion lives on.
For musicians, the rush of a performance may be one of the profession's keenest joys. And for young artists, every chance on stage could become the catalyst for a future of musical accomplishments.
Chief amongst the things Vivien Goh believes in is the power of performing. As the second daughter of the late Goh Soon Tioe – one of Singapore’s most beloved classical music figures – her childhood was filled with memories of performing for her father and his guests. Those experiences gave her immense confidence – and fun. “Every performance with my father was like going on a picnic,” she laughs.
When she, together with family and former students of Goh Soon Tioe, established the Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Fund with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) in 2011, the celebrated music educator and Cultural Medallion winner hoped to encourage deserving individuals to pursue a career in music.
Her fund supports the Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award – a highly coveted prize amongst young musicians today for the chance to be showcased in a solo recital performance, a distinct recognition of one’s musical virtuosity.
Since 2012, the Award, which comes with a cash grant (valued at $10,000 in 2020), has been presented to nine outstanding young musicians.
A FATHER’S EXAMPLE
When Vivien thinks of her late father, one thing that never fails to evoke memories is his generosity. "If he had extra time, he would give lessons to any student who might need it," says Vivien.
The late Mr Goh temporarily lost the function of three fingers due to malnutrition while living in Europe. This incident, curiously, led him to embrace teaching – the path of his greatest legacy.
As a testament to his generous nature, he once took in a young boy living in the shophouses of Chinatown named Lee Pan Hon, whom he nurtured into a prodigious violinist with a remarkable career in Europe.
At the time of his passing, the late Goh had nurtured countless students. Many became known figures in Singapore’s music scene, including singer-songwriter Dick Lee, violinist Lynnette Seah and composer Kam Kee Yong.
A TEACHER’S PASSION
Like her father, Vivien has spent her life training young musicians, including conducting the Singapore Youth Orchestra in the 1980s. She decided to start the Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award to honour her father’s generosity and musical legacy.
"When I was writing my will, I began to understand that if I'm already intending to give, I should do so in my lifetime, so that I would be able to witness the fruits of the gift," says Vivien. "Since I've spent my whole life nurturing others, it's been greatly rewarding to keep in touch with the new generation of musicians through this Award.”
Currently an adjunct teacher at the School of the Arts, Vivien is looking forward to continuing her work with the Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award. She shares, “Today, I am starting to see the impact of this Award on the lives of our winners as they embark on their careers. Through this Award, I hope future generations of musicians will remember and embody my father’s pursuit of excellence in music.”