Tuesday 8 May 2001 – Singapore
My first day at the Singapore Symphony… and I’m trying not to jump to conclusions or feel to down in the dumps about it just yet!
Firstly, having been told to arrive at 10am and doing so promptly, I had to wait outside the offices for over 45 minutes whilst a staff meeting was in progress. Still, it was a chance to cool off after the stroll from the hotel. Liew Lin Choy, SSO General Manager came to greet me. He spent half an hour or so chatting with me about the orchestra, its drive to increase the standard of its playing, its recent high turnover in administrative staff and its funding sources and substantial and growing deficit that they are presently approaching the Government for help with.
He suggested that I spend the mornings working with his various departments, and perhaps spend the afternoons meeting other Singaporean arts organizations and representatives. I stated that I was keen not just to be an observer, but also to be an active participant and work on any appropriate projects that his team, particularly his marketing team, is working on.
His problem seems to be that there isn’t really a marketing team at the moment – the marketing manager is on maternity leave, or about to be, and everyone else is fairly part time. I was introduced to various other staff members, including the Education team, Artistic Manager, Orchestra Manager, Finance and Personnel staff and some of the Development team (although the Development Manager was also away today).
After a short chat with the Orchestra Manager, Tze-Law Chan about various operational aspects of the SSO, I settled into my desk. The offices of the Orchestra are not lavish, even by the standards of the TSO at the Odeon. Everyone (except the as yet unseen Marketing Dept) is crammed into a very small area where each person really only has the space of their own desk in which to work.
My own desk is what I would call a student desk and at first had a broken chair, until I almost fell off it and another was brought. There is a phone (a shared line) but no computer, and my requests to use a PC to view the SSO Education website and check some emails were declined, apparently because of some security reasons. One of the staff offered to bring in their own laptop, but I said I had my own, which I’ll take in tomorrow.
Ms Jamie Lee, Education Manager, took me out to lunch (yum cha on the 48th floor of a nearby tower building – my first chance to see a real view. She also tried, I think, to shock me by ordering a special dessert. She wouldn’t tell me what it was before I had tried it – a clear sweet soup tasting rather like pear juice with jelly-like globules floating about in it. She told me that it was made from the lungs of frogs, then seemed a little disappointed when I continued eating it.) I spent the rest of the day finding out about the SSO Education program and even writing some copy for a brochure about a forthcoming concert.
In the evening I arranged to move in to Ric’s place tomorrow evening and then decided to try out a local gym. I’ve visited a couple to check on their prices (all very expensive), but they generally offer a free, week long trial, so am trying out a couple on that basis. I walked half an hour or so to get there and after a bit of looking about managed to find appropriate equipment to complete one of my programs from Cazalys.
However I didn’t get all the way through and cut short my final session on the ‘stepper’ as I was feeling a bit faint – I think I’m still not used to the heat, even though the gym itself is air-conditioned. Caught a bus back to the Allson hotel and had a meal and a beer to celebrate my final evening here. Phoned Ann Miles to say that I wouldn’t need her offer of her spare room in Holland Road – she was very kind, saying that it was there if things didn’t work out. I will endeavor to take her for a meal in the next couple of weeks to thank her for her kindness.