About The Straits Ensemble
The Straits Ensemble is a musical collective that champions Singapore cultural music exchanges, influenced by the ever-changing global music landscape and jazz sensibilities.
With an instrumentation that embodies' Singapore's cultural sound, The Straits Ensemble navigates the rich tapestry of Singapore's heritage and taps on a global kampung spirit to celebrate diversity.
The Straits Ensemble is a group under Pasat Merdu, a non-profit organization focused on fostering intercultural understanding and uncovering the essence of the Singaporean Sound. Through education, commissions, presentations and promotion of new works, it aims to present this distinct sound to the world stage.
An independent artist navigating tradition, change and a confluence of cultures, he seeks to make sense of his environment by exploring the cultural musical landscape of Singapore with a suite of music composed around the themes of ‘diversity’ and ‘relationships’ for ensembles comprising of various folk instruments. Inspired by The Silk Road Project, Phang is motivated to share culture through composition, performance and education.
Phang has performed and presented his works at international music festivals and both 2017 & 2019 International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers Symposium clinics facilitated by Grammy winner and nominees, BIlly Childs, Bill Frisell and Ron Miles.
Felix currently heads Pasat Merdu, a non-profit organization focused on fostering intercultural understanding and uncovering the essence of the Singaporean Sound. He holds an adjunct position at LASALLE College of the Arts, and mentors young composers in his own time. Felix also runs a ceramic studio, Weekender Worker, where he explores traditional craftsmanship from a contemporary perspective.
Kailin Yong is a musician/educator/performer and most of all, a global citizen and a tireless advocate for using the arts to promote peace. He often shares his gifts as a composer, music director and performer through his work with Flamenco Sin Fronteras, Maya Dance Theatre, Singapore Chinese Dance Theatre as well as other independent choreographers, dancers and musicians around the world.
Kailin is the founding member of the following musical ensembles: Kailin Yong Peace Project, NuMundo, Y String Quartet, PLUS Trio, Qilin Group, WEBE, DoReFaSoLah, Straits Ensemble and Monsoon Intercultural Ensemble.
Azrin Abdullah began his love affair with the oud, an Arabic lute-type stringed instrument, in 1999 when he was tasked to learn the exotic instrument as part of an endeavour to master traditional Malay music.
In 2014, Azrin was sponsored by the National Arts Council to pursue an advanced course at the National Conservatory of Arts in Kuala Lumpur to further his knowledge of the oud. After completing the course, he went on to produce the first Singapore Gambus Conference, which was held at the Malay Heritage Centre from 25-30 October 2016 in conjunction with the Malay Culture Festival. The well-attended event saw speakers and gambus enthusiasts from Singapore and around the world gather to share their knowledge of the instrument.
Azrin was also instrumental in forming Singapore Oudists (SGOudists), an online oud community that provides local oud players from all walks of life with a platform to get together and share techniques and playing styles.
Gildon Choo is an active Pipa performer, educator and art maker who believes in bridging communities by creating meaningful experiences for both artists and audiences. A visionary at heart, Gildon realizes his dreams through his artistic endeavors, fostering an understanding between various cultural landscapes of Singapore.
Over the years he had collaborated with artists and art groups in various projects, both locally and internationally. Some of the international performances brought him to places such as Uzbekistan, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Vietnam, China and Italy.
Gildon is deeply attached to his roots as he was introduced to Cantonese Opera at an early age. Singing popular operatic excerpts was part of his daily life growing up. His passion for Chinese Opera indubitably guided him to where he is today: connected with Chinese art forms and engaged with subsidiary performances with traditional opera troupes as a Pipa performer.
Rebana & Percussion
A notable name made synonymous with world drums and dance, Nizar Fauzi have been around making waves in the arts and the community for the last 20 years.
Under the guidance of his parents, he began his early years in Malay traditional art forms with pioneer dance ensemble, SRIWANA. As one of the many youth involved, he strives for an identity to his individuality. Soon after, he was talent scouted by Singapore’s premier Malay traditional music ensemble, SRI MAHLIGAI and grew from a percussionist to being one of the main singers of the team. He later joined SAMBIESTA & WICKED AURAto further satisfy his hunger for other styles of music and to explore his potential as a percussionist and a singer. These involvements have allowed him to performed extensively locally and internationally, to places such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Australia, Korea and UK.
As he grew and matures as an artiste, Nizar returns with the tools and capabilities of bridging the human voice with the rhythms of the people and varying movements into one harmonious and inseparable form. This was further enhanced and exemplify with the establishment of NADI Singapura, in which he explores his vision as a kid, thus allowing himself to grow as a respectable choreographer among his peers.
Being unique to practices, he remains a much sought after, musician, performer and choreographer who is dedicated to further enhancing his potential.
Piano & Keyboards
Eugene’s musical journey began with classical music that eventually switched to jazz. He moved to New York City for two transformative years to absorb the energy of the city and acquire new musical insights.
Eugene has played at local festivals such as the Singapore International Festival of Arts, Mosaic Music Festival, Huayi Music Festival and CHIJazz. He has also played at overseas music festivals in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, China and Laos.
He has recorded two albums with jazz band Mellow Motif, of which he was a founding member. Mellow Motif has made appearances on MTV, PBS and CNN-Go.
In 2013, he released a duo album with flautist Rit Xu entitled “On a Little Street in Singapore: A Jazzy Conversation”. Eugene has recorded two albums with the Rit Xu Group, “This Too Shall Pass” in 2019, and “Scenes and Stories” in 2021, both available on Spotify.
Tabla & Percussion
Govin Tan is a versatile ‘World Music percussionist/drummer with a burning desire to push boundaries in establishing ethnic drumming in contemporary settings.
His journey began with the study of Indian Music in Singapore at the age of 12 and later furthering his craft in Tabla performance for the next few years in India.
He was the first non-Indian to win the National Indian Music Competition in 2006 at the age of 14 (Tabla intermediate category) and 2008 at the age of 16 (Tabla open category). The rarity of such an achievement opened doors for appearances on various media coverages such as Channel News Asia, Channel 8, Channel 5, Vasantham, MTV Asia, Zao Bao, The New paper, Straits Times, Tabla magazine, 98.7FM, 933FM, and many more.
An adventurous soul at heart, Govin’s curiosity for the different musical cultures around the world led him to pursue them one study at a time. Subsequently, applying this knowledge in his musical compositions and processes for his productions. His dedication and discipline for the arts has culminated in his involvement in numerous local and international festivals, residencies and performances with like minded artist — as a soloist, a sessionist as well as a composer — in multiple states in countries such as, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Australia, America, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China, Hongkong, Taiwan, Brunei.
These experiences has since brought his musical understanding and performance to new heights. On many occasions, Govin has played many key role in numerous performing groups in Singapore and subsequently, was handpicked by the National Arts Council and Singapore Tourism Board as a performer, representing singapore on the global stage.
To date, Govin is a second generation owner of Flame of the Forest and an associate musician in Open Score Project and SA the collective. Apart from performing, he is also an active educator whom has a vision to groom and encourage more ethnic drumming in contemporary settings.
Always a true student at heart, Govin continues to study and explore various ethnic instruments of the world.