Formed in 1968, the NUS Wind Symphony has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a military band. Throughout its 42 years of existence, the band has been through several ups and downs before maturing to its present standing.
Under the tutelage of its newly appointed Musical Director/Resident Conductor, the esteemed Associate Professor Ho Hwee Long, the Wind Symphony members hone their skills in terms of technicality and musicality. Exposure from public performances also equipped the members with the confidence and ability to soar greater heights.
The band performs two concerts a year - Da Capo every October, and InTempo every March. The band is especially recognised for its annual InTempo concert series. Started in 1974, InTempo is the longest running band concert series in Singapore. In recent years, the wind orchestra has successfully premiered several critically acclaimed works. Through such process, the wind orchestra has established itself as a leading wind orchestra with its repertoire of classics and cutting-edge works.
InTempo 2002 was especially enriching as the band successfully premiered two works of world-class composer, Jan van der Roost. Additionally, the band is honoured to premiere the piece "Rhythms and Rhapsodies", commissioned by the NUS Centre for the Arts, and composed by local talent Iskandar Ismail.
In March 2008, the band gave a local premiere of renowned Dutch Composer, Johan de Meij’s “Symphony No. 3: Planet Earth”. The band had the privilege to be featured in the Straits Times, and managed to deliver what was hailed by the critics as a “highly spirited reading” of the 50-minute magnum opus, “[lurching] from one climax to another”. As the highlight of Da Capo 2008, the wind orchestra featured another of the composer’s work – “Extreme Makeover: Metamorphoses on a Theme by Tchaikovsky” in October 2008. Incorporating fragments from other Tchaikovsky’s famous works, such pieces allowed us to continue to push artistic frontiers and challenge ourselves and our audiences alike.
December 2008 marks a transition period for the band - as our former Music Director, Mr Leonard Tan left us to pursue his studies in the US. InTempo 2009 was thus our very first concert under the tutelage of the esteemed Associate Professor Ho.
The accompanying tagline to InTempo 2009 was "Listen to the evolution of music... in Green", and the band certainly delivered that - and more. Besides nature-themed pieces like Frank Ticheli's "Vesuvius" and Jan van der Roost's "Amazonia", the band also presented a recently published piece, the light-hearted "Pinocchio" by Alex Poelman. The audience was also treated to several classic band literature - Franz von Suppe's "Light Cavalry Overture" and James Barnes's "Fantasy Variations".
An active participant in music festivals and competitions overseas, the band taken part in the 8th International Band Festival in Italy (1997) and the 3rd World Music Festival in Zurich (1999). It was also invited to participate in the Fuji International Youth Musicale in Japan in 1991, 1994 and 1996. Its most significant achievements overseas is its participation in the 14th World Music Contest in Kerkrade, The Netherlands, where the group was awarded a First Prize (Gold Award) in the 2nd Division, Harmony Section. In 2007, the band was invited to participate in the 13th International Band Festival held in Besana, Italy, and received numerous standing ovations for the musical, passionate and engaging performances. An overseas trip to end the AY 2009/10 on a high note is currently in the pipeline.
The group has performed in charity events such as the NUSSU Volunteer Action Community Charity Fiesta and the CFA Charity concert for the intellectually disabled children. In 2005, the band held a children’s day concert, titled Genesis, with a percentage of the proceeds going to charity.
The band also performs for various local engagements. Most recently, the wind orchestra performed at the well-publicised national event, Fam Jam! Walk & Rock 2009, delighting the audiences with an audio-visual performance. In September 2009, the NUS Wind Symphony will be presenting Yesterday, Once More as part of the “Esplanade Presents – Beautiful Sunday” programme at the Esplanade Concert Hall. This concert will feature a repertoire filled with evergreens and crowd favourites, with the wind orchestra revisiting pop gems such as "Hey Jude" and "Yesterday", as well as selection from landmark musicals such as "West Side Story" and "The Phantom of the Opera".