Vivien Goh



Vivien Goh (born 1948, Singapore) is the daughter of the late Goh Soon Tioe, a pioneering violinist, music teacher and impresario who played a key role in the development of classical music in Singapore. Like her father, Goh is an accomplished violinist whose musical talents were recognised in her late teens with a full scholarship to study at the Eastman School of Music in the United States. Goh is best known for her contributions to music education during her time as music director and conductor of the Singapore Youth Orchestra (SYO).1 For her contributions to Singapore’s classical music scene, Goh was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Music in 1983.2

Early years3
Goh was six when she began irregular 15-minute violin lessons with her violin-teacher father, the late Goh Soon Tioe. When she was 12, he put her on an intensive four-year crash course in violin when he realised how he had neglected her music education. As a result, she passed her Grade 8 music examinations and obtained the Licentiate of the Royal School of Music at the age of 15.4

Goh grew up in a home immersed with music. Her sisters played the cello and bassoon and her mother the piano. Her father would sing and play his favourite records as well as share stories about famous composers with his children. His home music studio, string orchestra, and frequent visits from renowned artists to their home during his days as an impresario left their mark on Goh. From 1956 to 1965, Goh was a violinist in the Goh Soon Tioe String Orchestra.5 She made her debut violin recital in 1965 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.6

Artistic development7
In 1964, Goh was awarded the Ellice Handy medal for her position as Singapore’s top student in the Senior Cambridge School Certificate Examination.8 The following year, she went to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, on a full tuition scholarship.

At Eastman, Goh was a leader in her field. She gave student recitals in New York and also performed with the Eastman Rochester Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Walter Hedl. She was concertmaster at the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra and the Eastman Philharmonia, besides being first violinist of the Eastman Quartet for two years. Her concerto performances were broadcast live on Voice of America.

Goh graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music and a performer’s certificate in 1969. Despite better prospects for musicians in America and Europe, Goh decided to return to Singapore because she wanted to teach and perform in her homeland and the Southeast Asia region.

Artistic and teaching career9

Goh started her teaching career giving private violin lessons and also conducting violin lessons for schools under the Ministry of Education Extra Curricula Activities Centre’s Instrumental Music Programme.10

Goh also continued to develop her music interests, successfully combining her full-time teaching career with regular solo recitals.11 In 1973 and 1975, she studied with Jean Fournier at the Internationale Sommerakademie of the Morzarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and in 1978, she did a semester of postgraduate work at Eastman.12

In 1971, Goh became the string coach of the Singapore Youth Orchestra (SYO) when her father was still the orchestra’s conductor. When he fell ill in 1975, Goh replaced him as the conductor of the Goh Soon Tioe String Orchestra. She subsequently became the music director and resident conductor of the SYO in 1980.13

Under her baton, the SYO became one of the seven qualifying orchestras in the world to perform at the prestigious International Festival of Youth Orchestras and the Performing Arts held in Rome in 1982.14 The orchestra also captured the hearts of local audiences with their public performances and received excellent reviews.15

During her 10 years with the youth orchestra, Goh made an impact on young musicians and groomed the ensemble to become a semi-professional orchestra. The orchestra give successful concert tours in Italy, the United Kingdom and Australia. In 1989, the Straits Times newspaper described her as “the woman who made the Singapore Youth Orchestra what it is today”.16

To honour her late father’s memory and achievements, Goh wrote and published the book Goh Soon Tioe: One Great Symphony in 1992. She also gathered alumni of the Goh Soon Tioe String Orchestra for the Goh Soon Tioe: One Great Symphony – Celebrating 100 years concert in 2011.

Goh continues to honour her father’s musical legacy through teaching violin privately to young children and aspiring musicians.17


Family18
Father: Goh Soon Tioe.
Mother: Chang Lee Sieng.
Sisters: Sylvia and Patricia.

Education19

1954: Started learning violin from her father Goh Soon Tioe.
1960: Started intense violin lessons with her father.
1963: Obtained Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music.
1964: Top Singapore student in the Senior Cambridge examinations.
1965: Received the Ellice Handy medal from Methodist Girls’ School for being its top student; Awarded full scholarship to study at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music.
1969: Graduated from Rochester’s Eastman School of Music with Bachelor of Music (B. Mus) and a Performer’s Certificate.
1973: Attended two-month summer session, Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria.20

1975: Attended two-month summer session, Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria.
1978: Attended summer session at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena, Italy; Began graduate study at Eastman School of Music.
1986: Received Goethe-Institut Scholarship.

Career milestones21
1956: Member, Goh Soon Tioe String Orchestra.
1965: Soloist, Goh Soon Tioe String Orchestra.
1966: First violinist, Eastman Honors Quartet.
1967: Concertmaster, Eastman School Symphony Orchestra.
1968: Concertmaster, Eastman Philharmonia; Soloist, Eastman-Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
1969: Sonata recital with renowned British pianist Kendall Taylor, Singapore Conference Hall.
1970: Violin soloist, Singapore National Orchestra’s Classical Symphony under the baton of Shalom Ronly Riklis, Singapore Conference Hall; First Singaporean violinist to play with the Jakarta Symphony Orchestra.
1971: Recital with pianist Loretta Goldberg, Singapore Conference Hall.
1973: Recital with Dorothea Hover, RELC Auditorium.
1974: Soloist with Goh Soon Tioe String Orchestra.
1975 to 1983: Conductor of Goh Soon Tioe String Orchestra.
1976: Documentary on Vivien Goh by Radio Television Singapore.
1980 to 1990: Resident Conductor and Music Director, Singapore Youth Orchestra (later renamed Singapore National Youth Orchestra).
1981: Received Frederick Galleghan Fellowship.22

1982: Toured with Singapore Youth Orchestra to Rome, Italy.
1983: Received Cultural Medallion for Music.
1985: Toured with Singapore Youth Orchestra to Lancashire, UK.
1987: Performed with cellist sister Sylvia for Methodist Girls’ School’s 100th anniversary, Victoria Theatre.
1988: Toured with Singapore Youth Orchestra to Perth, Australia.


Contributions23
1970 to 1980: Instructor, Instrumental Music Programme, ECA Centre, Ministry of Education. Taught violin at schools such as Anglo-Chinese Junior School, Methodist Girls’ School, Pasir Panjang Secondary School, and Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School.
1992: Wrote and published Goh Soon Tioe: One Great Symphony, a biography of her father.

1992 to 2000: Director, Fiddling for Fun, an orchestra programme for young violinists.
1997 to 2012: Various collaborations with Methodist School of Music.
2000 to 2007: Member of the Chamber Players.
2000 to 2012: Various collaborations with the Celebration Chorus.
2003 to 2012: Various collaborations with the Singapore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
2011: Established the Goh Soon Tioe Outstanding Performer Award for the biennial National Piano and Violin Competition; Conductor of the Goh Soon Tioe String Orchestra Alumni for the concert One Great Symphony: Goh Soon Tioe – Celebrating 100 Years at the Singapore Chinese Orchestra Concert Hall.



Author

Angeline Koh



References
1. Tribute.sg. (2012). Vivien Goh. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Vivien+Goh; Tan, C. (1983, November 22). She carries on her dad’s work. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. National Arts Council. (2013, October 4). 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
3.
Tan, C. (1983, November 22). She carries on her dad’s work. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Goh, V. (1992). Goh Soon Tioe: One great symphony. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 94–96. (Call no.: RSING 787.2092 GOH)
4. Music girl Vivien shuns fame and gain for home. (1969, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Liew, J. (1980, October 17). Fellowship winner. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Debut at 17 for Vivien, violinist daughter of violinist. (1965, April 20). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Music girl Vivien shuns fame and gain for home. (1969, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Vivien Goh gets Handy medal. (1965, July 27). The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tribute.sg. (2012). Vivien Goh. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Vivien+Goh
10. The Theatre. (1973, May 27). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Fine performance by violinist Vivien Goh. (1973, January 13). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Liew, J. (1980, October 17). Fellowship winner. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Tribute.sg. (2012). Vivien Goh. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Vivien+Goh

14. Youth Orchestra for Rome festival. (1982, July 1). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. First SYO performance outside the concert hall: Magnificent… despite the din. (1982, July 5). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Bose, R. (1989, August 2). Youth orchestra conductor quits. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Tribute.sg. (2012). Vivien Goh. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Vivien+Goh
18. Goh, V. (1992). Goh Soon Tioe: One great symphony. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 91, 93, 116. (Call no.: RSING 787.2092 GOH)
19. Tribute.sg. (2012). Vivien Goh. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Vivien+Goh; Tan, C. (1983, November 22). She carries on her dad’s work. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Violinist Vivien to attend summer course in Salzburg. (1973, June 19). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Tribute.sg. (2012). Vivien Goh. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Vivien+Goh
22. Liew, J. (1980, October 17). Fellowship winner. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Tribute.sg. (2012). Vivien Goh. Retrieved from http://www.tribute.sg/artistprofile.php?displayname=Vivien+Goh



Further resource
Nam, J. (2011). Goh Soon Tioe “One Great Symphony”. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/63667018



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.

Subject
Personalities
Arts