Foreword:

Behind the persona of every artist lies a human being, just like you and I. The Human Diaries series thus explores the multifaceted lives of our musicians, which gained popularity during Season 1 last year. Expect the unexpected in Season 2 as we step into the homes and favourite places of our musicians, conductors and Composer-in-Residence, discovering stories untold.

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Synopsis: From a starry-eyed young boy fascinated with Chinese Orchestra to being the youngest conductor to lead Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SC0), 36-year-old Moses Gay shares his conducting journey and perspective. In particular, he reveals how his latest role as a first-time father has influenced his career and outlook on life.


moses gay

Text: Lim Ka Min

Photo: Singapore Chinese Orchestra

Music has been an integral part of Moses’ life. Growing up as a young boy, Moses was inspired to know more about the Chinese Orchestra, back in Ngee Ann Secondary School. The school’s Chinese Orchestra was very solid and indeed popular back then.

 “SCO invited all the Singapore Youth Festival gold medallist. That was when we played side-by-side with SCO musicians. So that was where I got inspired.”

“Maybe one day I want to be like them?”

Chasing dreams, taking flight

Hailed by The Straits Times as an “excellent young conductor”, Moses’ first foray into conducting began at the age of 16, where he earned great praise from renowned Chinese conductor Ku Lap-Man while conducting Phoon Yew Tien’s The Forge Ahead 《奋勇前进》. A multitalented musician, Moses started his music journey learning the erhu under the tutelage of Zhang Yuming.

Since then, Moses has developed into an outstanding musician, graduating with First Class Honours from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and obtaining a Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting at the China Conservatory of Music, both on full scholarship.

“I was given my position at SCO. Young Assistant Conductor-in-Residence. I'll forever remember…Y.A.C.I.R.”

It was a very long name, and certainly memorable for Moses.

YACIR

(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Being a conductor is tough job, especially during COVID-19

Back then, Moses became the youngest conductor to lead the SCO as Assistant Conductor, at age 29. A budding star in the scene, Moses quipped, “A lot of people think the conductor is "高高在上" (unapproachable). On the pedestal, high up there.”

Many may even think that being a conductor is an easy job, but it isn’t as easy as it seems.

“For example, the preparation work, the number of scores that you need to study, one-hour repertoire, plus the whole seating arrangement, how do we want it to be, especially now after the COVID-19 Safety Management Measures (SMM) kicks in,” he explained.

Inaugurated in 1997, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra is made up of more than 80 musicians. In each concert performance, the stage would almost be completely filled and seated with musicians playing instruments from the various sections.

Now, many concerts are cancelled, some brought online and the number of performers on stage has to be reduced drastically.

"30 people? How to do?! Who do we choose?”

30 people

(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

“Do we choose more of this or do we choose more of that? How do we encourage them to work towards a certain goal? How do we work together?”

“It's not really a top-down approach, but more of a collaborative effort.”

Alot of times, it is much easier said than done, especially when a conductor like Moses is much younger than most of the orchestra musicians. We interviewed a few of them and they shared candidly about their respect for Moses. You can watch the video here.

Young Conductor to Young Father

Despite facing many challenges, Moses has been overcoming them, taking things in his stride and his toughest assignment yet — being a father.

“Ever since Esther came into the picture, every little improvement, every little thing that she does, strikes a different emotion in me.”

family

(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

He explained that his experience as a first-time father influenced him in his career. Ever since her daughter’s arrival, Moses strives to be a better family member, where he helps, listens and sometimes just be there for the musicians.

“And that kind of affects me now when I work with musicians, because now, every reaction they have, I will be ‘Oh, do you feel uncomfortable?’; ‘Is there something wrong with the score?’ I will start to think about a lot of things.”

Life motto – Embrace them with no Regrets

no regrets

(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Learning never stops for Moses and he accepts all challenges and overcome them. “Embrace them, no regrets,” he said.

“Do it, and go through with all your might.”

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Moses Gay is Singapore Chinese Orchestra’s Associate conductor and Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra’s Associate Conductor. Back in 2014, at the age of 29, Moses became the youngest conductor to lead the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

 moses 1

 If you haven't catch Moses' Human Diaries episode, click here

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Thank you for reading and following through the article thus far, sharing with you some bonus moments which we captured. Here are some special behind-the-scenes which you didn’t get to see from the video:

 Moses performing the violin in an empty concert hall.  

violin

Moses performing the erhu.

erhu

Moses almost engulfed in smoke and still looking professional.

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Thank you for your kind attention, stay tuned to the next episode of Human Diaries season 2. 😊

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