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Archives Invites: Dr Bernard Tan - The Anthem as National Memory

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Join us as we unpack a tale of how the orchestral versions of "Majulah Singapura" kept pace with Singapore’s progress.

About this event

Many Singaporeans grew up singing the National Anthem Majulah Singapura (Malay for “Onward, Singapore”) with pride every morning during school assemblies. Every year, during the National Day Parade celebrations, we are also treated to a grander version with a 100-strong symphony orchestra.

While the story of the orchestration is not widely known, the evolution of the various arrangements mirrors the story of Singapore. Join us as we tap on the resources of the National Archives, unveil this part of our history and unpack a tale of how the orchestral versions of Majulah Singapura kept pace with Singapore’s progress.

About the Panellists

Bernard Tan is an Emeritus Professor of Physics at the National University of Singapore. He is a member of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra Council and was Chairman of the Musicians’ Guild, the Singapore Youth Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Music Makers and the Singapore Arts Festival Steering Committee, and served on the boards of the Singapore Symphonia Company and the Esplanade. His Guitar Concerto was premiered in 2013 by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra with Kevin Loh and his Cello Concerto was premiered in 2016 by the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra with Noella Yan. He was the Project Advisor of the 2019 re-recording of the National Anthem, and also Head of the Evaluation Panel for the 2001 re-arrangement of the National Anthem.

Jessica Yeo is an Audiovisual Archivist at the National Archives of Singapore (NAS). She has helped in the curation of NAS’ online access initiatives: Sounds of Yesteryear, 1903−1941, featuring pre-war sound records; Preserving Memories: 50 Moments in Time, showcasing audiovisual recordings from 1968 to 2017; and Blast from the Past, which recounts Singaporeans’ shared experiences through archival collections.

About the Moderator

Chng Hak-Peng is the Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Symphony Group (SSG). His involvement with the Orchestra began in 2008 as a volunteer, working with the management team on a number of strategic projects. This eventually led to his appointment as Deputy Chairman of the Board, where he focused on strategic and organisational reviews, including heading a team that integrated the government-run Singapore National Youth Orchestra into the company. In his youth, Hak-Peng actively participated in school orchestras, wind bands and choirs. He has a keen interest in music and Chinese history.

About Archives Invites

Community histories unfold in this series that traces Singapore’s social past with help from the archives.

Online Programme/Event Administrative Information

  • This programme is conducted entirely online. You may access Zoom via the app or using a web browser.
  • Please ensure that you enter a valid email address as you will receive an email with the link to the online programme/event nearer the day of the programme/event.
  • The link of the programme should not be shared with others.
  • Do ensure you have a strong internet connection. Using your mobile data is not recommended.
  • The National Library Board, Singapore (NLB) reserves the right in its absolute discretion to disqualify or refuse admission to any registrant without any reason and notice.
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The National Library Board (NLB) manages a network of 27 public libraries, the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore. NLB promotes reading, learning and information literacy by providing a trusted, accessible and globally-connected library and information service through the National Library and a comprehensive network of Public Libraries.

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