SYC ensemble singers
The SYC Ensemble Singers began life in 1964 as the Singapore Youth Choir (SYC), a national choir for young singers. To celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2004 and to mark a point of musical evolution, the choir was renamed the SYC Ensemble Singers.
Considered a trailblazer and standard-bearer throughout its history, the SYC was the first Singaporean choir to win an international competition, the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod. It was also the first choir to receive the President’s Charity and the Excellence for Singapore awards. To celebrate Singapore’s 50th year of independence, the choir performed in Washington D.C. at the invitation of the Embassy of Singapore.
Led by Jennifer Tham since 1986, the SYC Ensemble Singers promotes and performs the work of living composers, often exploring spatialised sound, theatre and movement. To date, the SYC has commissioned over sixty works, most recently from Emily Koh (Singapore), Saunder Choi (Philippines), and William Hawley (USA). Their flexible musicianship and commitment to diverse and complex voices have earned them an international reputation as performers and interpreters of contemporary music.
If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.
—Sir James Barrie
Jennifer Tham has directed the Singapore Youth Choir (now the SYC Ensemble Singers) since 1986. In her hands, the SYC has earned a reputation for being the composer’s choir, malleable to the demands of contemporary choral music. She was conferred the Cultural Medallion (Music)—the nation's highest arts accolade—for her role in shaping Singapore's cultural landscape.
Jennifer taught choral conducting and pedagogy at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and teaches short courses and workshops on repertoire, conducting, and rehearsal technique, equipping young conductors around the world with a toolbox of musicianship games for growing a choir.
Under the auspices of the Young Musicians’ Society, Jennifer was Artistic Director of the Asia South Pacific Symposium on Choral Music (2001) and its offshoots, the First Aid for Choirs clinics (2002 – 2017) and Kodaly Seminar Asia series (2009 – 2016). For the International Federation for Choral Music, she has chaired and spoken on panels on repertoire and programming at conferences and symposia in Argentina, Denmark, Estonia and Sweden, and co-coordinates the Asia Pacific Working Committee and the Asia Pacific Youth Choir. She represents Singapore on the World Choir Council, and has been on jury at the World Choir Games and independent festivals in Asia, Europe and America since 2003.