While most people prefer to stay home over the weekends, members of West Winds come together on Sunday afternoons at Bukit Batok Community Club to make music.
This tradition has been going on for at least two decades, ever since the group was established in 1993. The band has grown steadily through the years; both in the membership expansion, as well as in its mission to consistently widen their musical repertoire by challenging themselves with compositions that would stretch their levels of performance.
Their frequent collaborations with renowned composers and conductors have seen them work with names such as Eric Whitacre, Jacob de Haan, Yasuhide Ito, Virginia Allen, Satoshi Yagisawa, Masato Sato, Prateep Suphanrojn and most recently, James Swearingen. These collaborations underscore the group’s commitment to improving their craft and bring music to the community at large.
“I would attribute West Winds’ growth largely to having a dedicated core group of musicians, some of whom have been with the band since its inception, as well as having a strong, supportive group of alumni and associates. Even though we have frequent additions to our growing family, the band still feels the same in essence because of our strong emphasis on friendship and community,” said James Chua, current President, who joined in 1998.
In the group’s typical annual calendar, it consists of at least two ticketed concerts. Their upcoming concert on 3 December is their second ticket concert of 2016, following their recent collaboration with James Swearingen earlier in the year. The concert, titled “Musica Universalis” has been on the band committee’s mind for some time as it also marks the 20th year of resident conductor Philip Tng with the band.
“Philip, or Boss, as we affectionately call him, does not make it a big deal as he shuns attention but we thought it would be a great opportunity to celebrate this special milestone with the concert,” James said.
“As it is boss’s 20th year with the band, we wanted him to have full say on the repertoire. We knew that he had been wanting to conduct Music of the Spheres and it was natural that it eventually became the title piece of the concert.”
“With that and a few other confirmed pieces, we came up with a theme that revolves around the cosmos, space, time and the sky. We then filled the gaps with suggestions from members that fit the theme. We usually prefer to have concerts with a theme and focus as it guides our repertoire selection and presentation,” he added.
As West Winds heads into 2017, it plans to have projects in May and September, as well as their 25th anniversary concert in January 2018.
“We are very excited about these concerts in the works but I’ll be keeping the details a secret for now. On top of that, West Winds has always been about Music, Friendship and Community. As such, we will definitely continue with our community outreach programme where we bring free concerts to the heartlands and also work with school bands,” James concluded.
Catch West Winds with resident conductor Philip Tng in their 3 December concert “Musica Universalis” at Victoria Concert Hall!
A contributing editor at TBP.