The #HumansAtSCO series – a special project which documents the stories of the people of Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO). We tell honest and inspiring stories of administration staff and unsung heroes working in the arts industry. We hope to bring out the very best in every story we tell, discover stories untold and positively impact the community.
Text: Sabrina Tan & Lim Ka Min
Photo: Bazli & SCO
Have you ever thought about whom you purchase tickets from? Or who ensures that the venue is safe and equipped with logistical support? And who manages the orchestra which consists of more than 80-musicians?
These are the day-to-day responsibilities of the “unsung heroes” in the Singapore Conference Hall, which has been a home to the Singapore Chinese Orchestra since 2001. Without their contributions, our compound would not be operational to hold many successful concerts and events.
Meet Muhammad Bazli, the first non-Chinese colleague to work in Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Curious to find out more about venue marketing and how is a typical day like? Bazli answers 5 questions and sheds light into his role as a Senior Executive of the Venue Marketing team.
Question: How many years have you been in SCO? Why did you join SCO? Share about your role as Venue Marketing staff - How is a day like for you?
Answer: I have been in SCO for slightly over 2.5 years. I joined because the opportunity presented itself and I was also keen on running events. SCO is one of the 2 national orchestras in Singapore and they are housed in Singapore Conference Hall, a National Monument. This is a unique place for a company to be in. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to experience and be part of this family.
(Bazli’s well-wishes for SCO’s 25th anniversary last year.)
A typical day for Venue Marketing can be quite chaotic. We would get a number of calls and emails in a day, requesting availability of our venue spaces. Coordination with various stakeholders and aligning them to a common reference point would be the main challenge. This is also a huge component of work, for a Venue Marketing staff.
Think of it as the Conductor of the Orchestra - Venue Marketing’s role is to ensure that the different sections and instruments come together seamlessly to put on a show that would not only entertain the audience, but would also be memorable for them, as well as the Hirers.
Question: What do you find challenging about your job? Maybe you can also compare Pre-covid and Covid days?
Answer: The most challenging thing would be similar to the previous question – Coordinating with the many stakeholders. As the Malay saying goes, ”Rambut sama hitam, hati lain-lain”, the direct translation “Hair same black, hearts are different” Which basically means each person has their own expectations/opinions.
Pre-Covid days, the management of expectation was kept to the vision that the Hirer had the realities of what they are able to accomplish. The limitations faced were with budget constraints.
During COVID, this was added on with managing the unbridled enthusiasm of passionate people who just wanted to put on a show.
Unfortunately, the situation at that point of time was simply not favourable – in terms of smaller performing groups, smaller audience size, adapting to a hybrid performance and of course the ongoing pandemic with its ever-evolving nature. This further added challenges as these passionate individuals sometimes forget of the situation and put forth plans that were pre-pandemic. Calibrating everyone to ensure that we uphold and create a safe venue for performers as well as audience was definitely one of the most challenging aspects in my time with SCO.
(Bazli standing next to SCO’s iconic big drum at the Singapore Conference Hall level 1 lobby)
Question: Share something about working in SCO as the first non-Chinese colleague in SCO?
Answer: The most striking thing for me in SCO is the collaborative efforts from my colleagues. We try our best to help each other solve situations in a win-win solution and that cannot be taken for granted lightly. The communication and openness of the company, even with those higher in the ladder, allows for ideas to be heard and oftentimes create new resolutions to existing problems.
On a personal level, as the first non-Chinese colleague, I was overwhelmed with the welcome that I received in my early days with the company. Small gestures like getting a Halal only oven, microwave and communicating in English during meetings have not been lost on me and I will always be grateful for it. My colleagues always ensure that during company level events – such as celebrations during Chinese New Year and Dragon Boat Festival, Halal food is catered for me – the singular person and it is very touching. Their genuine efforts have not been lost and I am thankful that they have done so much.
(Bazli collects his Halal dumpling during Dragon Boat Festival)
I also take a lot of pride in being the first non-Chinese in SCO and I hope that I am able to leave a positive impression through the work that I carry out. It is definitely a conversation starter that I have used many times outside of work, to promote SCO’s concerts to possible patrons, especially when there is an opportunity to ask a Minister or Member of Parliament to attend a show.
Question: What do you enjoy most about being in the arts industry and what about your job excites you?
Answer: I enjoy meeting many different talents which we have in Singapore and seeing the “unseen” hard work (behind the scenes) of many in this magnificent collaboration of a performance. I am able to interact with various artists, engage in various forms of arts in Singapore and this part of my job excites me. From vocalists, to chorus, to musicians – there are many talented individuals who just need a space to showcase their arts to make their event a success. This is the most exciting aspect of work for me.
Question: Work can be challenging and hectic at times, how do you find time to pursue your hobbies like cycling and playing soccer?
Answer: Time management. Pre-COVID, along with some colleagues, we would do a short brisk walk around our city center as a form of exercise.
Especially during my busy periods at work, it's important to take a break and smell the roses that life has to offer - football as well as cycling. Therefore, I would schedule at least one session each week to ensure that I am ready for the week ahead.
Do you have any questions to ask Bazli? Drop us a message on our Facebook or Instagram account.
Thank you for your kind attention, stay tuned to the next episode of #HumansAtSCO. 😊