2017 marks the twenty-third year since The Philharmonic Chamber Choir (TPCC) was formed by Lim Yau, its Artistic Director. It has excelled in giving voice to the great traditions of Western classical music, both a cappella, as well as large works for choir and orchestra, and has equally made its mark in performing the Asian a cappella repertoire.
TPCC’s latest concerts include Equinox (2015): a mélange of little-performed 20th century choral works exploring the duality of night and day; and The Silent Realm in Majesty (2016): an exploration of modern German choral works with guest conductor Manfred Schreier.
It has been an exciting journey of choral exploration and performance, marked by many memorable highlights. Since its inception, TPCC has worked with such noted choral conductors as Stephen Cleobury, Francisco Feliciano, Joseph Flummerfelt, Robert Hollingworth, Chifuru Matsubara, Peter Phillips, Johannes Prinz, Gregory Rose, Manfred Schreier and Nobuaki Tanaka.
At the 19th Béla Bartók International Choral Competition in Debrecen, Hungary in July 2000, TPCC was awarded First Prize in the Mixed Choir Category, and Third Prize in the Chamber Choir category. It also received a Special Prize for the most authentic performance of Zoltán Kodály’s Liszt Ferenchez. In 2002, TPCC was invited to perform at the 1st Performing Arts Festival in Tokyo, where it gave a series of concerts in the Takemitsu Memorial Hall alongside the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus, Asia’s oldest professional chamber choir.
TPCC has often collaborated with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SS0), the Singapore Symphony Chorus (SSC), and The Philharmonic Orchestra (TPO). It has also appeared in productions by the Singapore Dance Theatre, Singapore Lyric Opera, and Canada’s Opera Atelier. Previous collaborations of note with SSO and SSC include a recording of Zhou Long’s The Future of Fire (2003) — recorded on the BIS record label, Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da Requiem (2010), William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast (2011), Hector Berlioz’s Te Deum (2011), Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (2013) and most recently Anton Bruckner's Mass No. 3 and Arvo Pärt's Te Deum (2016).
With TPO, TPCC has performed J. S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor (2000 and 2008), and appeared in Debussy Tonight! (2014) among others. The latest collaboration was a cross-disciplinary production in 2015 with the Arts Fission Company, entitled The Mazu Chronicle (妈祖航志).
TPCC has also partnered with many other arts groups and organisations in diverse collaborations involving an equally wide repertoire. These range from Esplanade — Theatres on the Bay’s presentation of Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc, together with the celebrated female quartet Anonymous 4, to YTL Corporation’s Concert of Celebration 2010 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, featuring Andrea Bocelli.
In recent years, TPCC has attempted to bridge East and West in order to extend the choral experience, for both the performer and the listener. To this end, Light and a Hundred Colours (2008) demonstrated the musical possibilities and emotional potential of an unorthodox pairing of 16th century English motets with the Indian sarangi played by Sabir Khan, while Zen Renaissance (2012) juxtaposed the Japanese shakuhachi, played by shakuhachi master Ueno Koshuzan, with Renaissance masters such as John Taverner, Carlo Gesualdo, John Sheppard, and Jean Mouton.
As a choir based in the heart of Asia, TPCC has always been cognizant of its responsibility towards its Asian musical heritage. Since its first all-Asian programme, When Will the Flowers Bloom?, and the recording of its first Asian a cappella CD in 1999 — which surveyed the new spirit of Asian folksongs, TPCC has not let up in its efforts to explore the wealth of the contemporary Asian choral repertoire. Its most recent Asian a cappella concert was The Bird of Time (2014), which featured the Singapore premiere of Peng (鹏) by Singaporean composer Zechariah Goh.
On 02 April 2017, TPCC will present its latest Asian a cappella concert Timeless Skies, featuring the world premiere of Yang Guan San Die (阳关三叠) by Zechariah Goh. It will also perform with the SSO as part of the chorus for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem under the baton of guest conductor Masaaki Suzuki in April 2017, and with TPO in Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 'Choral' in October 2017.