The 3rd Edition of Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival and Exclusive Interview with Mr Quek Ling Kiong, the Principal Guest Conductor for Ding Yi

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Our Parenting World Interview Series: Exclusive Interview with Mr Quek Ling Kiong, the Principal Guest Conductor for Ding Yi

The 3rd Edition of Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival is taking place from 5 to 8 August 2017 at the Esplanade Recital Studio, this year’s Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival promises dynamic performances from a stellar array of local and international Chinese chamber music ensembles. Performance-goers will be able to immerse themselves in the best of both musical worlds – traditional and contemporary. 

Ding Yi will kick-start things with their 10th anniversary concert, by premiering 10 new specially written pieces by 10 different composers, including the acclaimed Eric Watson, Phoon Yew Tien – Singapore’s most recorded classical music composer, Wang Chenwei and the Composer-in-Residence Phang Kok Jun. Headed by Ding Yi’s Principal Guest Conductor, Quek Ling Kiong, it will be a double celebration with the graduation of 9 musicians, who are officially graduating from their respective arts and music studies.

To find out more about the 3rd Edition of Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival and upcoming performances, please go to 

Our Parenting World (OPW) team is pleased to be able to interview Mr Quek Ling Kiong (QLK), the Principal Guest Conductor for Ding Yi.

About Mr Quek Ling Kiong, he “performed” impromptu drum solos for his family at five years old, but his pursuit of a musical career was a struggle against all odds. His musical passion was fueled by his teacher Dr Tay Teow Kiat and Maestro Tsung Yeh, and his time as a percussionist taught him how to listen and blend with other players and led him to conducting. He does not control, but help the musicians, inviting them to attain the emotion of the music piece.

Quek was with Ding Yi when it started in 2007 and now, it is proud to have one of Singapore’s finest conductors and COMPASS Singapore Meritorious Award recipient as its Principal Guest Conductor, where he seeks to create concerts that push the boundaries, that represent Singapore and its colourful culture, that cultivate more young music talents and promote the love of Chinese Chamber music.

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1. Can you share with us more about your background and how did you get started in your conducting career?

QLK: I am trained in percussions. I had my BA in performing arts in China Conservatory of Music. In the context of both Chinese traditional music (especially Chinese opera) and Western Classical music, a drummer or the Timpanist (which I am as I was trained in both Chinese and Western percussion), is a conductor of the ensemble (in Chinese music case) or the second conductor (in the symphony orchestra context). I started conducting my former school’s Chinese orchestra and that is when I decided to switch from being a performer (musician) to a conductor. I once said I have transformed from an actor to a director.

2. What do you enjoy most about conducting?

QLK: Besides the deeper involvement of interpreting a musician’s work in a more holistic and entire perspective, I love the deeper process of creativity involved in the art of conducting. It is more than just conducting technique as communication skill, interpersonal skill, knowledge beyond music etc. is needed too. Conducting is also about constant learning and I love to learn new things. And most of all, as a conductor, I can programme concert, I can turn my ideas to reality and present to more people.

3. What do you consider most challenging about conducting?

QLK: How to communicate effectively and efficiently. How to be demanding yet not harsh. When to be a teacher, when to be a director, when to be a guide. How to inspire the musicians to play at their best. How to get more by conducting less. Constantly thinking of perfecting and balancing the sound of art.

4. Can you tell us more about your work at Ding Yi Music Company?

QLK: I plan the programmes I conduct. I oversee all programmes that are not conducted by me. I act as a gatekeeper for the company’s artistic vision and mission. I hold the duty to upkeep and continuously improve the standard of artistic excellence. I see myself as a leader, a mentor, sometimes a facilitator. At times, we have to allow space for mistake to be learnt to in order have growth in the company.

5. What are some of your favourite music pieces to conduct?

QLK: Music that touches hearts and souls. Music that helps to raise the bar of standard for the ensemble. Music that keep ringing in my head after concert for day

6. Can you share with us what are the benefits of exposing children to music at a young age?

QLK: It is just like growing a fruit tree as it starts with proper seeding. The memory capacity of a child is endless, whatever learned at a young age will stay with the child for a long time. I also see children as a sponge. They absorbed what was shared with them. Whatever they have learned when they are young will always be a part of them. Hence it is important to make good quality programmes for children so that they can have the best experience in their hearts and minds. When the time is right, one will start picking an instrument to play, or sing or compose!

7. What are some of the ways that parents can do to cultivate and nurture interest in music for their children from young?

QLK: Give them as much support as you can. Attend concerts, and share different genres of music with the children as much as possible. Do not rush them. If parents see potential or great interest in the children, approach professionals for advice to start nurturing them. But more importantly, it is to be with them when attending these musical events. (especially for children age 5 and below.)

8. Any tips or advice for parents who are interested in enrolling their children to music classes, how to choose the right school, teacher and or music course?

QLK: There are books that talk about the selection of the the right instruments for children (probably online too) or you can always go to the professionals for suggestion. Sometimes, trial and error is required as each child has different learning timeframes. And music is one form that can be of many different methodologies.

9. Do you have any advice to children who aspire to be a conductor when they grow up?

QLK: Learn piano. Be curious of all instruments. Learn the code of “Never give up” . Most of all, love music with all your heart.

10. Lastly, do you have anything you would like to add on and share with our readers about Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival and the coming performances (including the Songs of the Dragon Kiln happening on the 3 December 2017)?

QLK: The members of Ding Yi including myself were once children who discovered our interest in music. To us, it was merely a hobby and never in our wildest dreams have we thought that we will be doing this full time. Our passion is our work and our work is our passion. This year, we unveiled the 3rd edition of Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival (CCMF). It also happens to be the 10th anniversary of the company. It is a double celebration for us as nine Ding Yi members are also celebrating their glory graduation from their various studies in music, such as music performance, conducting and composing. We kick off the CCMF with our very own birthday performance as we celebrate our 10 years of music making. We invited 10 composers to specially compose 10 new works for us to share with the audience. We also invited overseas ensembles with the same interest in promoting the beauty of Chamber music, its intimacy, delicate and exquisite elements to celebrate the 10th year of music making. It is one music fiesta not to be missed for music lovers in Singapore!

As a champion of Chinese Chamber music, we share the sentiment of other traditional trade and art of Singapore. As we tell the story of the last “living” Singapore Dragon Kiln in a production in Dec by using the pottery arts that were fired and created by the Dragon Kiln in this uniquely Singapore production Songs of the Dragon Kiln! We hope that family of young and old, can be a part of this experience. Be amazed by the newly composed work by local renowned composer, understanding the history and future of the kiln through a documentary film, and experiencing the amazing voices of the pottery that were born from the kiln It will be an exciting, educational, and engaging concert experience that you will not want to miss!

Thank you Mr Quek Ling Kiong for taking our interview! 

Ding_Yi_Music Company

The 3rd Edition of Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival

Organised in conjunction with Ding Yi’s 10th anniversary, the biennial music festival that was first started in 2013 showcases the finest and most innovative Chinese chamber music works. Further underlining their intention to establish and broaden Singaporeans’ musical horizons, Ding Yi will be hosting masterclasses led by performers and composers from the visiting groups. Interested parties who are looking to deepen their interest in Chinese chamber music can sign up for the classes for free.

Performance tickets are available at SISTIC – Sign up for workshops and master classes are on a first come, first serve basis at

Ding Yi’s 10th Anniversary Concert

Date : 5 August 2017, Saturday

Time : 7.30PM

Duration : 1 hrs and 15 mins (including interval)

Venue : Esplanade Recital Studio

Ticket price  : $25


Between the Weaving Tunes

Date : 6 August 2017, Sunday

Time : 3PM

Duration : 1 hrs and 15 mins (including interval)

Venue : Esplanade Recital Studio

Ticket price  : $25


Glimpse of Shanghai

Date : 6 August 2017, Sunday

Time : 7.30PM

Duration : 1 hrs and 15 mins (including interval)

Venue : Esplanade Recital Studio

Ticket price  : $25


Modern Impressions

Date : 8 August 2017, Tuesday

Time : 7.30PM

Duration : 1 hrs and 15 mins (including interval)

Venue : Esplanade Recital Studio

Ticket price  : $25


To learn more about Ding Yi Chinese Chamber Music Festival, please visit


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