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Singapore Magazine: A Stage for Singapore

July 1, 2018 | In The News

first heard the work of avant-garde composer Vladimir Martynov in 2004, when I was the Singapore ambassador to Russia. Listening to a performance of one of his scores at the City Hall in Moscow, I found his music very moving, and felt he deserved a wider audience. He hadn’t wanted to leave Moscow after the fall of the Soviet Union, and that decision cost him.

I plucked up the courage and asked if he would compose a string-quartet piece for Singapore (that would be affordable and relatively easy for me to stage). He said yes. I invited him to Singapore to meet our ethnic musicians and music lecturers, and to experience Singapore for himself.

After two weeks he came back and said: “It needs to be an orchestral piece. Singapore represents something the Soviet Union could not achieve. The Soviet Union was trying to create utopia on earth, but it failed. Singapore thinks of utopia as the journey, and this is what makes Singapore big. Don’t think of yourself as a small country.”

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