Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association



The Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association (陶融儒乐社) is a musical group formed in 1931 and registered as a society in 1962.1 It remains active today, performing Waijiang (外江) and Teochew music and opera concerts regularly.2

Origins
Thau Yong was established in August 1931 when a group of music lovers rented the third floor of a shophouse to practise their interest. Located on Carpenter Street, the space was small and the members often practised by the light of a kerosene lamp. As the association grew, it began to plan for its first public Waijiang opera performance. To help materialise this plan, the association’s president Yu Zi Dong (余子东) donated part of his salary to cover the expenses. Further, the association managed to raise additional funds to purchase props and costumes for the proposed performance that eventually took place at the Great World amusement park in 1935.3

Developments
The opera troupe became popular after its maiden performance. By 1939, it had recorded 44 albums and was regularly featured on the radio. They were also invited by the British to perform at the Victoria Memorial Hall. To support the ongoing war effort against the Japanese, Thau Yong also raise funds for the various war relief funds and charities through its performances. When Singapore fell to the Japanese, the association ceased its activities.4

After the British returned following the end of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), Thau Yong moved to a new location on River Valley Road. In February 1946, the group resumed its activities by staging two free performances on Carpenter Street. By then, the society had around 100 members.5

The following year, Thau Yong shifted again, this time to the north of Boat Quay. The new premises was much larger than its previous home: It had a meeting hall, guest hall, meeting room, bedrooms, general office and a storeroom. Further, the association was able to raise extra funds for renovation. With a bigger place, Thau Yong was able to attract more members, increasing its size to about 200.6

In the ensuing decades, the association continued to grow, holding opera performances regularly for the public. It also recorded many albums and served as a platform for the community to learn and take part in not only Waijiang, but also Teochew music and opera. By the 1970s, the association had become so prolific that it was able to purchase a shophouse on Kim Yam Road as their headquarters in 1976. However, Thau Yong’s performances at the new venue were hampered because of its poor location. As a result, the association shifted to a rented shophouse on North Canal Road.7 In 1997, Thau Yong moved yet again – to Geylang, where it remains today.8

Musical styles
Thau Yong is associated with the Waijiang and Teochew musical and opera styles. Waijiang music has been associated with Thau Yong since its formation. Originating from Guangdong, China, the Waijiang style can be traced to opera troupes collectively known as huiban (徽班) in 1730. Waijiang opera troupes usually performed during official banquets, and they used the official language of the Chinese government then, known as guanhua (官话), during their performances.9 Waijiang music is also referred to as ruyue (儒乐), which can be found in the name of the association.10


As for Teochew opera and music, it was adopted by the association in 1962 following a revival of interest in this musical style during the late 1950s and early 1960s. This was due to the release of Teochew-dialect opera films at the time, such as Huo Shao Lin Jiang Lou《火烧临江楼》, Su Liu Niang《苏六娘》, Chen San Wu Niang《陈三五娘》and Gao Qin Fu《告亲夫》. As a result of the revival, many musical associations including Thau Yong started to include Teochew opera into their performances. Thau Yong held its first Teochew opera performance in July 1962.11

Besides Waijiang and Teochew opera and music, Thau Yong also promoted Chinese orchestral music in the 1950s.12 This musical genre, which involves an orchestral arrangement of traditional Chinese instrumental music, is known as huayue (华乐) in Singapore. The association started expanding its activities to include Chinese orchestra; in 1957, it began offering classes on instruments such as the pipa, a four-stringed plucked lute, and the guzheng, a 21-stringed zither.13 Two years later, Thau Yong formed its own Chinese orchestra. The orchestra was popular at the time and was invited regularly by schools to hold concerts.14

Thau Yong today
Thau Yong remains active today, holding Waijiang and Teochew music and opera concert performances regularly in Singapore.15 In addition, the association has developed a reputation overseas. Its opera troupe has performed in countries such as Germany and China.16 In 1995, it was invited by the National Commission of Culture of Thailand and the Thailand Culture Centre to perform in Bangkok as part of the International Ramayana Performing Arts Festival.17 More recently in 2008, the association travelled to South Korea to perform in the Masan International Theatre Festival.18




Author

Alvin Chua



References
1. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, pp. 33, 41. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA); State of Singapore. Government gazette. (1962, July 6). (G.N. 1461). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 890. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG)
2. Tong, S. L. (2009). Chinese street opera in Singapore. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, p. 80. (Call no.: RSING 782.1095957 LEE); Durai, J. (2013, October 21). The last maestro standing. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, pp. 33–34. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
4. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, pp. 34–35. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
5. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, pp. 35–36. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
6. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, p. 36. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
7. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, pp. 36–45. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
8. Lee, M. (1997, November 14). Opera society opens new home. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, pp. 33, 41, 88, 90–91. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
10. 陈天国& 苏妙筝 [Chen, T. G., & Su, M. Z.]. (2004). 《潮州音乐》 [Chaozhou Yinyue].  Guangzhou: 广东人民出版社 [Guangdong renmin chubanshe], p. 243. (Call no.: Chinese RART 780.95127 CTG)
11. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, pp. 41, 100. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
12. Lau, F. (2005). The changing image of Chinese music. In Hae-kyung Um (Ed.), Diasporas and interculturalism in Asian performing arts: Translating traditions. New York; London: RoutledgeCurzon, p. 37. (Call no.: RSING 791.095 DIA); 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, p. 40. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
13. Lau, F. (2005). The changing image of Chinese music. In Hae-kyung Um (Ed.), Diasporas and interculturalism in Asian performing arts: Translating traditions. New York; London: RoutledgeCurzon, p. 37. (Call no.: RSING 791.095 DIA)
14. 陶融儒乐社 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association]. (1981). 《陶融儒乐社金禧纪念特刊》 [Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association golden anniversary souvenir publication]. Singapore: Author, p. 40. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 792.095957 THA)
15. Durai, J. (2013, October 21). The last maestro standing. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Wang, Y. M. (2016, March 12). 戏曲学院‘经典粤剧专场’ – 晚尽展五剧团风采.《联合早报》 [Lianhe Wanbao];Xing, G. Y. (2015, July 6).义安公司办潮州文化美食节 潮菜点心招待‘己自人’.《联合早报》 [Lianhe Wanbao]; Chen, J. R. (2015, May 3). 百年会馆三庆,千人宴今晚登场. 《联合早报》 [Lianhe Wanbao]. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
16. Ho, S. B. (1995, June 21). Rama goes to Bangkok to save his Sita in Teochew. The Straits Times, p. 8; Free opera, anyone? (1999, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Ho, S. B. (1995, June 21). Rama goes to Bangkok to save his Sita in Teochew. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. 陶融儒乐社受邀赴韩演潮剧. (2008, July 15). 《联合晚报》 [Lianhe Wanbao], p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Chin, S. F. (1994, November 9). Teochew opera here is in good healthThe Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Chua, S. P. (1997, November 18). Bad lighting spoiled the good performancesThe Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Chua, S. P. (1999, October 11). Swinging sleeves and hair add to visual feastThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Chua, S. P. (2000, July 4). Drums throb for Teochew operaThe Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Liu, G., & Phillips, A. (Eds.). (1988). Wayang: A history of Chinese opera in Singapore. Singapore: National Archives.
(Call no.: RSING 792.095957 WAY)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Operas, Chinese--Singapore
Organisations>>Associations>>Arts Groups
Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association
Amateur theater--Singapore
Arts>>Theatre>>Operas and operettas
Arts organisations