T'ang Quartet



Founded by Ang Chek Meng, Ng Yu-Ying, Leslie Tan and Lionel Tan in 1992,1 T’ang Quartet is the first professional string quartet formed in Singapore. Noted for its precision and balance,2 the quartet’s musical repertoire is a skilful and contemporary blend of both Eastern and Western influences.3 The ensemble has recorded four albums, and was the recipient of the Artistic Excellence Award (classical) presented by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore in 2008.

Background
The ensemble’s founding members became acquainted in the 1980s through their musical involvement in the Singapore Youth Orchestra.4 The four went on to form the T’ang Quartet in 1992, with the intention of sharing the appreciation and joy of classical music with a wider audience. The ensemble’s name is an acronym formed from the initials of the members’ last names. It is also a reference to the Tang dynasty, a period of notable cultural achievements in the history of China.5

As part of their attempt to popularise classical music, the group was intent on shedding the conservative image commonly associated with their occupation. The four musicians presented themselves as stylish performers through their fashionable concert attire and glamorous publicity material.6 The ensemble also posed topless in a 1993 photograph that received much attention from the media and the public. As a result, the quartet gained a considerable following within a short period of time and performed at a sold-out concert at the Victoria Concert Hall in 1993.7

In 1997, the four decided to leave the Singapore Symphony Orchestra to concentrate on performing professionally as a quartet.8 In the same year, the group became the resident string quartet of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University,9 performing with artists such as Norman Fischer (cellist) and Kenneth Goldsmith (violinist).10

Turning professional
The quartet began performing professionally in 1999, after spending a few years abroad.11 As a professional chamber music group, there was a need to build a more serious image. The ensemble thus began participating in musical competitions abroad. One such competition was the second Joseph Joachim International Chamber Music Competition held in Weimar, Germany, in 1999. The group was placed third and also won the Special Jury Prize in the competition.12 In the following year, the ensemble won the Bartok Prize at the Prague-Vienna-Budapest SommerAkademie13 as well as the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Cultural Award.14 The quartet was also a recipient of the Singapore Youth Award in Arts and Culture in 2002 for their achievements in classical music,15 and the Artistic Excellence Award (classical) presented by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore in 2008.16

After performing professionally for six years, the quartet released its critically acclaimed debut album, The Art of War, in 2005.17 A review in the British string music magazine Strad considered the album “sensational”, and praised the quartet for its technique and balance.18 Straits Times journalist Cheong Suk-Wai commended the album for its “feathery feel”, which was seen as a refreshing change from the usual exacting quality of music that typifies the quartet.19

In March 2005, the quartet performed at Wigmore Hall, London.20 The performance was so well-received that the ensemble was invited by the British Broadcasting Corporation to record for its World Recital Series in February 2006.21

The ensemble has also released two other albums, Not Our Debut (1997)22 and Made in America (2006),23 and a charity CD recording in 2008 titled The True Sound of Healing for Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Art of Healing Programme.24 In 2000, the quartet recorded a single, Heavenly, in collaboration with Action Theatre and Singaporean composer Iskandar Ismail.25

Music education
Besides performing professionally, the quartet also actively participates in music education programmes in Singapore and abroad. Between 2001 and 2005, the ensemble was the resident quartet at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute in Massachusetts.26 Its four founding members are currently mentoring young musicians at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore.27 The ensemble also performs every year in schools in Singapore, Australia and the United States.

Collaborations
The quartet has collaborated with theatre groups in visual and aural productions staged at both local and international arts festivals. One such production, commissioned by the Singapore Arts Festival, was Optical Identity in 2007, a collaborative effort between the quartet and Scotland’s Theatre Cryptic.28 The production premiered in Edinburgh followed by Spain before touring Scotland between October and November that year.29 The quartet also performed with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 2004 and 2010.30

Current member
The ensemble’s current members are Leslie Tan (cello), Ng Yu-Ying (first violin), Ang Chek Meng (second violin) and Lionel Tan (viola).31



Author
Hong Xinying



References
1. Pereira, A. (1992, November 17). This quartet’s not squareThe Straits Times, p. 7; Phan, M. Y. (1993, March 2). We’re no fuddy-duddies. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Maycock, R. (2005, March 31). T’ang Quartet, Wigmore Hall, London. The Independent. Retrieved 2010, February 17 from Independent website: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/tang-quartet-wigmore-hall-london-530664.html
3. T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about
4. Pereira, A. (1992, November 17). This quartet’s not squareThe Straits Times, p. 7; Phan, M. Y. (1993, March 2). We’re no fuddy-duddies. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Pereira, A. (1992, November 17). This quartet’s not squareThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about
6. Pereira, A. (1992, November 17). This quartet’s not squareThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Lim, R. (1996, July 27). T’ang Quartet seeks more serious imageThe Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Tan, S. E. (2004, January 8). Finally, an album from T’ang QuartetThe Straits Times, p. L8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about; Leow, J. (1997, May 13). Class-y music. The New Paper, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Kaplan. D. (1997, November 20). T’ang Quartet to celebrate new music program. Retrieved 2017, June 27 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/img/contents/clipping-ricemusicprogram.jpg
11. Potter, T. (2005, June). T’ang Quartet: Wigmore Hall, London 26 March 2005. Strad, 116(1382), p. 83. Retrieved from EBSCOhost via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about
12. Seto, N.-W. (1999, November 9). Let’s be world-class musicians. The New Paper, p. 22; Plusicons. (2006, June 7). Today, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about
13. Chee, F. (2008, March 10). T’ang Quartet up for award. The Straits Times, p. 52. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about
14. T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about; Wong, D. (2000, March 30). Passion for art pays off for lecturer. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Winning youth. (2002, July 4). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Composers and Authors Society of Singapore Ltd. (2008, May 25). 13th COMPASS Annual Awards Presentation. Retrieved 2017, September 16 from COMPASS website: http://www.compass.org.sg/2008/05/25/13th-compass-annual-awards-presentation; T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about
17. Tan, S. E. (2004, January 8). Finally, an album from T’ang QuartetThe Straits Times, p. L8; Cheong, S. W. (2004, December 2). Fiddlers on the moveThe Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; T’ang Quartet. (2005). The art of war [CD]. Singapore: Universal. (Call no.: AV Others 785.7194 TAN-[ART])
18. Markow, R. (2005, September). The Art of War Schulhoff String Quartet no. 1, Five Pieces for string quartet Haas String Quartet no. 2 ‘From the Monkey Mountains’. Strad, 116(1385), p. 104. Retrieved from EBSCOhost via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
19. Cheong, S.-W. (2005, May 20). Stirring the soul stringsThe Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Maycock, R. (2005, March 31). T’ang Quartet, Wigmore Hall, London. The Independent. Retrieved 2010, February 17 from Independent website: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/tang-quartet-wigmore-hall-london-530664.html; Potter, T. (2005, June). T’ang Quartet: Wigmore Hall, London 26 March 2005. Strad, 116(1382), p. 83. Retrieved from EBSCOhost via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
21. T’ang Quartet. (2005, December 27). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). Concert highlight. Retrieved 2017, June 27 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/music
22. T’ang Quartet. (1994–1996). Not our debut [CD]. Singapore: International Music Management Pte Ltd. (Call no.: Chinese RSING 784.7 TAN); Tan, H. (1997, August 19). T'ang Quartet records 1st album but it's not its debut. The New Paper, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. T’ang Quartet. (2006). Made in America c. 1893 [CD]. Singapore: T’ang Quartet Ltd. (Call no.: AV 785.7194 DVO-[ART])
24. T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). Concert highlight. Retrieved 2017, June 27 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/music; Jaganathan, J. (2008, September 1). The soothing sounds of healing. The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; T’ang Quartet & Tan, K. (2008). The true sound of healing [CD]. Singapore: Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Retrieved from MusicSG.
25. Tan, S. E. (2000, November 13). Classical twist to toilet humourThe Straits Times, p. 8; Lye, A. (2000, November 18). Sweet pangs from T’ang. The Business Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Plusicons. (2006, June 7). Today, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Cheong, S.-W. (2005, September 15). The fantastic fourThe Straits Times, p. 4; Cheong, J. (2007, December 1). T’ang Quartet go off the beaten trackThe Straits Times, p. 114. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. (2017). Faculty. Retrieved 2017, June 27 from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music website: https://www.ystmusic.nus.edu.sg/faculty
28. Chia, A. (2007, June 5). S’pore and Scotland ink arts deal. The Straits Times, p. 54; Eu, G. (2007, June 2). Pushing the musical envelope. The Business Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). Concert highlight. Retrieved 2017, June 27 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/music; Tan, S. E. (2007, August 30). T’ang Quartet on Europe tour. The Straits Times, p. 67. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Yeo, C. (2010, January 15). T’ang boys join SSOThe Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. T'ang Quartet Limited. (n.d.). The journey so far. Retrieved 2017, June 16 from T’ang Quartet website: http://www.tangquartet.com/about



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 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
Music
String quartet--Singapore
Arts>>Performing Arts>>Music
Arts>>Music
Chamber music groups--Singapore