Lynnette Seah



Lynnette Seah Mei Tsing1 (b. 1957, Singapore–),2 better known simply as Lynnette Seah, is an internationally acclaimed violinist. She has been a member of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) since its inception in 1979 and is currently its co-leader.3 An ambassador for classical music culture in Singapore, Lynnette is also involved in educating and nurturing future generations of musicians.4 For her contributions to the local music scene, Lynnette was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Music in 2006.5

Early years6
Lynnette was launched into the world of music by her mother, Lau Biau Chin, one of Singapore's first concert pianists and a music teacher. When Lynnette was four, her mother taught her to play the piano in between cooking and doing the housework. By age six, her mother started her on the violin.

Lynnette’s mother inculcated in her the discipline to practise every day. “Even as a little girl of six, I practised two hours a day, one hour on the piano and one on the violin. I had to play for my dinner',7 Lynnette recalled in a newspaper interview. Despite the long hours, she never resented her mother for making her practise, but admitted that she did it largely at first to please her mother.

Lynnette’s musical talent was spotted at the age of seven. She studied music with prominent teachers Goh Soon Tioe and Alphonso Anthony and quickly progressed from Grade 1 to 8 in her musical studies in six years, scoring distinctions all the way.

The child prodigy played her first violin concert at the age of nine with her mother at the old National Theatre as part of the televised Talentime contest. It was to be the first of more events that mother and daughter were to play together.

At 12, Lynnette became the youngest member to play in the 118-member World Youth Symphony Orchestra in Michigan on a scholarship. She was the only Singaporean to be awarded this scholarship at the time.

At 16, Lynnette put her pre-university studies on hold after accepting a scholarship to study under Friedrich Von Hausegger at the Hannover Hochschule for Music, a music academy in Germany. She had won the scholarship after representing Singapore in the Southeast Asian Violin Competition.

In Germany, Lynnette had to overcome language and cultural challenges and learn to fend for herself. Friends were hard to come by and expectations were high as her professor expected her to play in perfect pitch and intonation. Lonely and homesick, Lynnette plunged heart and soul into the world of the violin, practising the instrument eight hours a day and attending student concerts at night. The hard work paid off as it was during this time that it dawned on Lynnette how much she loved playing the violin.

After her return to Singapore, Lynnette enrolled at the National Junior College, cherishing ambitions of following in the footsteps of her doctor father and uncle. However, she could not get back into the mode of studying as her love of music had become too deeply rooted for her to pursue medicine. Lynnette never took her ‘A’ level examinations. She drifted around for almost three years before she became a violin teacher at the Yamaha Music School where she taught for about a year-and-a-half.

Artistic career
Joining the SSO
The year 1979 heralded the start of Lynnette’s professional music career. The then 21-year-old joined the newly formed SSO as a violinist and found herself appointed as the orchestra’s acting leader, a position which she held for about one-and-a-half years until more experienced violinists were recruited. After stepping down as acting leader, Lynette progressed through the ranks of the SSO from deputy leader to associate leader and finally co-leader.8


Career development
Lynnette’s musical career started to take off in the 1980s. She was kept busy giving recitals in Singapore as well as accepting invitations to perform as a soloist in Europe. It was during this time that Lynnette decided to use her Chinese name, Mei Tsing (which means “beautiful fortune”), professionally as she wanted to retain her ethnic identity when performing overseas.9


In 1987, Lynnette, together with three other SSO violinists, formed the SSO String Quartet. The group spent more than 100 hours practising together for a concert, averaging three to four sessions a week over and above their daytime SSO practices.10

Lynnette’s reputation as a violinist grew further in the 1990s. She was invited to give a recital at the Bergen International Music Festival in Norway in 1995. The following year, she was Singapore’s representative in the World Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Myung Whun Chung, which performed in Bangkok, Thailand, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Thai king’s ascension to the throne.11

When the SSO celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2009, Lynnette took centre stage with her solo performance of German composer Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1. The gala audience included Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as guest of honour.12

Contributions
Lynnette serves as an ambassador for classical music in Singapore and is also involved in nurturing the next generation of musicians. In 2013, she collaborated with arts promotion company Niven and Niven to conduct a masterclass to share her knowledge with violinists of all ages.13


Family14
Husband (divorced): Hans Simon.
Sons: Maurice Wei Ming and Andre Han Ming.

Education15

Methodist Girls’ School.
National Junior College.
Hannover Hochschule for Music, Germany.


Career milestones16
1970: Only Singaporean awarded to play with the 118-member World Youth Symphony Orchestra in Michigan, USA.17
1972:
Winner of Southeast Asian violin competition. Awarded a place at a music camp in Adelaide, Australia.18

1973: South East Asian violin competition, organised by Young Musicians Society and Germany Embassy.
1978: Violin teacher, Yamaha Music School.

1979: Acting Leader, Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO).
1986: First Singaporean to compete in the Carl Fleshch International Violin Competition, London.

1987: Soloist, Credit Suisse’s 100th anniversary celebrations, Lausanne.
1987: Tour of Sweden with the Orebro Chamber Orchestra.
1988: Soloist, three-city concert tour, Czechoslovakia. Invited by Pragokoncer, the Czech state agency for foreign and Czech artists. Two ‘live’ engagements in Prague on radio and TV.
1988: Three concerts, Zurich Symphony Orchestra, Switzerland.
1989: Two concerts, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra.

1996: Represented Singapore in the World Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Myung Whun Chung at a performance to mark the 50th anniversary of the Thai king’s ascension to the throne.19
2006: Cultural Medallion for Music.
2009: Soloist, SSO’s 30th Anniversary concert.



Author
Angeline Koh



References
1.
Khor, C. (1988, January 14). Czech violinist makes his debut here. The Straits Times, p. 65. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Violinist Lynette picked for music camp. (1972, November 18). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Yap, S. (2009, January 19). Take a bow. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Lynnette Seah: Co-leader. Retrieved from Singapore Symphony Orchestra website: http://www.sso.org.sg/details.php?CategoryID=254&p=2100&tid=0
4. Niven & Niven. (2013). Violin Masterclass with Lynnette Seah. Retrieved from http://www.nivenniven.com/projects/lynnette-seah
5. National Arts Council Singapore. (2012). Cultural Medallion & Young Artist Award Recipients for Music. Retrieved from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/art-forms/music/local-directory/cultural-medallion-young-artist-award-recipients-for-music
6.
Ling, P. W. (1979, February 1). First violinist Lynette has found her niche. The Straits Times, p. 2; Yap, S. (2009, January 19). Take a bow. The Straits Times, p. 42; Leong, C. (1989, July 27). Music as it should be felt. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Lynette Seah: Co-leader. Retrieved from Singapore Symphony Orchestra website: http://www.sso.org.sg/details.php?CategoryID=254&p=2100&tid=0
7. Yap, S. (2009, January 19). Take a bow. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Yap, S. (2009, January 19). Take a bow. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Lynette Seah: Co-leader. Retrieved from Singapore Symphony Orchestra website: http://www.sso.org.sg/details.php?CategoryID=254&p=2100&tid=0
9. Khor, C. (1987, April 30). Lynette takes on a new name and a hectic schedule. The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Wong, M. (1988, May 24). Quartet features light, easy pieces. The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Lynette Seah: Co-leader. Retrieved from Singapore Symphony Orchestra website: http://www.sso.org.sg/details.php?CategoryID=254&p=2100&tid=0
12. Yap, S. (2009, January 8). SSO turns 30. The Straits Times, p. 48; Chua, S. (2009, January 16). Many happy returns, SSO. The Straits Times, p. 89. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Niven & Niven. (2013). Violin Masterclass with Lynnette Seah. Retrieved from http://www.nivenniven.com/projects/lynnette-seah
14. Khor, C. (1987, April 30). Lynette takes on a new name and a hectic schedule. The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Yap, S. (2009, January 19). Take a bow. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Yap, S. (2009, January 19). Take a bow. The Straits Times, p. 42; Khor, C. (1987, April 30). Lynette takes on a new name and a hectic schedule. The Straits Times, p. 25; Khor, C. (1988, January 14). Czech violinist makes his debut here. The Straits Times, p. 65. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Ling, P. W. (1979, February 1). First violinist Lynette has found her niche. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Violinist Lynette picked for music camp. (1972, November 18). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Niven.Niven. (2013). Violinist/Co-concertmaster Lynette Seah – Biography. Retrieved from http://www.nivenniven.com/lynnette-seah



The information in this article is valid as at 3 March 2014 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.

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