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.



Our Composer-in-Residence, 33-year-old Wang Chenwei, is a music prodigy and polyglot — a rising star in the local arts scene. Besides speaking and writing multiple languages fluently, he is able to compose, conduct and play more than 10 musical instruments. Take a peek into his life, as he demonstrates and shares about his love for languages as well as his musical journey.


Text: Lim Ka Min

Photo: Singapore Chinese Orchestra

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)


Is this addiction or is this just insanity? To learn multiple languages. Is he a polyglot? And people wonder how he can speak multiple languages.

Many also asked Wang Chenwei, “How many languages can you actually speak and write fluently?”

It all started off with some French newsletters that his dad brought home from office. This first sparked his interest in languages and the rest is history.

“I don’t like to claim how many languages I know because my area of knowledge varies for each language and I am always learning,” he quipped.

In Tamil: Greetings, my name is Wang Chenwei.

In German: I would like to welcome you warmly to the second season of “Human Dairies”!

In French: I am the composer-in-residence of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.


(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

“So, my language of focus actually changes depending on what I am working on in a particular year,” he explains.

From Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra Alumnus to Singapore Chinese Orchestra Composer-in-Residence

Growing up in the music scene, an aspiring musician in the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra for five years, alumnus Chenwei is the newly appointed Composer-in-Residence of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra since July 2020.

Chenwei was an active member of the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra (then known as the Singapore Youth Chinese Orchestra) from 2004 to 2008. He took on different instruments throughout his five years in the orchestra and played the Daruan, Sanxian, Zhongyin Sheng, Cello and Zhonghu respectively. Deemed as a music prodigy, he was able to compose, conduct and play 12 musical instruments.


(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

While many of us were busy with academic work, making more friends and having fun in life at the age of 17, Chenwei had already composed an award-winning piece -- The Sisters’ Islands. He won the “Singapore Composer Award” at the 2006 Singapore International Competition for Chinese Orchestra Composition. 

 “To compose optimally for any instrument, it would be ideal for the composer to know how to play it. This is especially true for Chinese instruments because each instrument has specific characteristics and limitations.”

For Chenwei’s many contributions to the music scene, he was conferred the Young Outstanding Singaporeans Award in 2011. Over the years, he has also composed several works with distinctive Singapore flavour such as “Confluence”, which has garnered him regional recognition.


(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

 “What I always try to do is to write idiomatically for every instrument in a way that caters to its strengths and avoid its weaknesses, or as we say in Chinese: ‘扬长避短’.”

Chenwei’s outstanding works leave memorable impressions. His compositions have also been widely performed in SCO’s ticketed and outreach concerts, reaching out to Singaporean audiences from all walks of life.

Delving deeper, exploring further

Moving ahead, Chenwei is excited to delve deeper into issues of identity through his compositions.

“For example, what does it mean to be Singaporean? What does it mean to be a Chinese-Singaporean? How do we attract younger audiences without diluting our heritage? I think topics like these are worth exploring.”


Wang Chenwei is Singapore Chinese Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence and alumnus of the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra. He is also a council member of the Singapore Chinese Music Federation (SCMF).


If you haven't caught Wang Chenwei' Human Diaries episode, click here.


Thank you for following through the article thus far. Here, we share some bonus behind-the-scenes moments:

Chenwei going through pointers with the director before filming.

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Take 101: Falling paper unexpectedly blocked Chenwei’s face.

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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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