Singapore Chinese Orchestra

Thursday 20 June, 2001 – Singapore

I made my way back to Kallang station to meet Terrence Ho, Marketing Manager with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (I had seen their premiere of Confucius, A Secular Cantata a couple of weeks earlier). Terrence was charming and delightful and showed me around their home at the People’s Association headquarters – a former aerodrome – and plied me with yet more soy-milk!

Of all the arts marketers I’ve met in Singapore, Terence struck me as the most together. His was a small organisation, and he personally oversaw both marketing and sponsorship, and had a major role in education. He also manages a recently-formed quartet of players from the orchestra which is starting to get itself noticed – apparently it’s the first of its kind in the world.

We had a lengthy discussion about the orchestra, Chinese instruments and repertoire and swapped stories and materials. Terence discussed various marketing techniques he utilises, including one that had me intrigued. At each of their subscription concerts throughout the season, they survey the audience for the most popular work in each concert. At the end of the year, they program two additional concerts consisting of the works that have received the most votes during the year.

Apparently these concerts sell very well. He also uses the surveys to build his database of patrons. He demonstrated a clear knowledge of audience segmentation and of audience development. The SCO performs many, many free concerts in local township areas and has deep roots in the community through the sheer number of Chinese orchestras (he said around 200) in Singapore. Many of these are tutored or conducted by players in the 60 strong SCO.

After a session at the gym and lunch (breakfast, actually) at La Pau Sat, I wandered into the SSO offices. Mr Soh, the ticketing and database administrator had taken on trying to get me an appointment with SISTIC, the national ticketing agency. Also visited Su-San, Jin Ting and Jamie, and said Hi to George.

Decided against a Festival show tonight – feeling a bit festivalled out, so wandered home where Ric and Ryan invited me to dine with them on clam pasta.

Aircraft approaches Singapore Airport over Changi Beach
Aircraft approaches Singapore Airport over Changi Beach

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