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.


Synopsis: Famous Jamaican reggae musician Bob Marley once said “one good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” SCO Music Director Tsung Yeh felt the hit of music from some western symphony orchestra back in 1970s, and decided to pursue conducting as career, and the rest is history. Read on to find out more about Mr Yeh’s take on music and life, and how what is his zest for life.

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Text: Oh Hui Yin

Photo: Singapore Chinese Orchestra


“Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.”

Being the son of a vocal professor, Mr Yeh was exposed to music since the very early stage of his life. His mother encouraged him into studying the piano and had a great influence to his music career.

“When she teaches vocals, sometimes I would play (the piano) for her students. That was when I really understood how singing affects music making.”

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Being in such an environment since young, Mr Yeh naturally has his own take on what is it to be successful in making music, that is to make a melody “sing”.

However, the moment when Mr Yeh really felt the hit from the music was in the 1970s. It was a period when China was opening up to the world, some western symphony orchestras entered and started to perform in China.

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

After listening to one of the performances, he was moved by the music and started tearing up. He exclaimed “Piano is no longer enough for me. I found a better instrument, which is the orchestra”. He then went to New York City to further his studies in conducting.

“Meeting you changed my life”

The trip to New York was not only a knowledge gaining trip, but also a life changing journey, where love is found.

“Well, in New York City, not too long after my arrival, my life had a very big change. You know why? Because I met Sau Lan, she later became my wife.”

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Life as a conductor isn’t easy, Mr Yeh had to travel to many countries, across the ocean with different time zones, for many events. He lovingly shared that, “Sau Lan would wait for me at the airport, I remembered at that time we had a van, as soon as I entered the van, Sau Lan would hand over a thermo flask which had very good chicken soup inside.”

He felt energised immediately after drink that soup made with love.

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

As the saying goes “for every successful man there is a woman”, it couldn’t be truer for Mr Yeh.  While Mr Yeh is busy with many of his commitments as a conductor throughout the years, Mrs Yeh helped to manage their family and kept the home warm for Mr Yeh.

In the eyes of Mr Yeh, Mrs Yeh is a relatively quiet person in public occasion. However, that does not mean that she doesn’t have any opinion of her own. “She has a lot of opinions and good thoughts, and quite tasteful in designing.”

In his first year of joining SCO, Mrs Yeh designed a coat for him, which has given many thoughts to it. Not only that, if you have noticed Mr Yeh’s photos in many of our concert collaterals, there is a photo of him wearing a blue coat smiling very happily. That coat was also being designed by Mrs Yeh, which has received many positive feedbacks

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(Photo credit: SCO)

“Lose yourself in the music”

Music has the power to trigger an emotion response, bringing you on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Mr Yeh shared, “when I am conducting, I usually forget that I am Tsung Yeh. I just let myself float with the music.”

“There is high, low, left, right, exciting, sadness.”

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

Three pillars of life: SCO, Family, Ambition

Everyone needs some motivation in life to keep ourselves going. To Mr Yeh, there are three pillars of his life that keeps him going, that is SCO, his family and his own ambition.

“My ambition is to do goodness for my family, for SCO and for Singapore.

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(Screenshot from Human Diaries video)

If you have not caught Tsung Yeh’s episode on Human Diaries Season 2, click here!


Thank you for reading and following through the article thus far! Here are some special behind-the-scenes:

Enjoying their walk along the streets of Tanjong Pagar.

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Cameras rolling and getting ready for the interview and phone call conversation across the ocean. 

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