Local Orchestra Gone Global

A chat with OMM

Story and photos by Cheryl Chew

“We want to form an orchestra.”

A grandiose idea sparked by a group of friends during a band rehearsal camp in 2006 spread quickly amongst a hundred or so students from the Music Elective Program.

A lofty dream, perhaps, of 20-year-olds. But two years later, when HSBC was looking for a new orchestra to support, the group came together to form the Orchestra of Music Makers (OMM).

Lee Guan Wei, Associate Director of the Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM), says, “We all realised that we were going to graduate from our school’s string ensemble someday, and we wanted to play orchestral music which we were not exposed to in school.”

This July, this local orchestra will be put on the world map, after accepting an invitation to participate in significant global events such as Lichfield Music Festival and Cheltenham Music Festival in the UK.

Before they leave on their world tour, OMM will be performing two shows, named Rite(s) Of Spring, at the Singapore Arts Festival this June.

Director Low Kee Hong explains the theme of the festival, which is Our Lost Poems: “The speed at which we develop and progress is sometimes scarily fast. Buildings come and go and the places we used to frequent as children are at best a faded image. We want to bring to our audiences stories that need to be told and retold, something to guide us as we race into the future.”

OMM will perform The Rite Of Spring, a classical composition by Stravinsky about a young girl sacrificing herself for Earth in a ritual, which made its debut in 1913.

Royston Tan, the man behind acclaimed local films like 881 and 12 Lotus will be collaborating with OMM in Rite(s) Of Spring. He will interpret the classical pieces into visual elements, creating an audiovisual experience for the audience.

While the members of OMM may be volunteer musicians, it is passion for their music that keeps them going. Oliver, Chairman of the OMM Artistic Committee, said: “We don’t take music as a career, but we do it anyway because we value it. We think it’s important. People have always classified us as amateur and unprofessional but in our group, we are neither. We are just volunteers and doing everything under the sun.”

Catch OMM on the 1st and 2nd of June at the Esplanade. Visit www.sistic.com for tickets and more information. 

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Kevin, thanks for chciekng out the show. We’re glad you like it. And I completely agree that getting great players out of conservatories and universities is not the same as attracting some of the best players from other orchestras. I do think that would affect the quality of the DSO. However, for less discriminating audience members (which, unfortunately, is probably the majority of any audience), they won’t notice an appreciable difference. You would know, and I would know, but I doubt that my mother would know. Somebody like my mom would probably keep subscribing. Like you say, Ann Parsons undoubtedly knows this, and is aware that it may not have a measurable effect on the bottom line.