Coming from a non-musical family background, Kahchun was asked by his mathematics teacher to join the school brass band at the age of 7, to cover the shortage of trumpet players. This pivotal event turned out to be life-changing for him.
He now hopes to do the same for the younger generation through project infinitude, with a vision to nurture a whole generation of music lovers who listen not only to the beauty in art but also to other unique and diverse voices in a shared community.
project infinitude is an inclusive movement for children that inspires possibilities through music. Apart from imparting cognitive, psychological life skills, the programme seeks to develop core values such as respect, responsibility, resilience, integrity, care and harmony in our next generation.
Brought to life from a long conversation over several weeks between Kahchun Wong and Marina Mahler, granddaughter of the composer Gustav Mahler, a pilot edition took place between November 2016 and March 2017, with invaluable support from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Superhero Me and Enabling Village, a space where people with different abilities can feel accepted for who they are, and be valued for their contributions.
In 2017, Kahchun invited 6-year old children from Child at Street 11 to his rehearsals with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and in return, they taught him how to dance the flamenco. Read more about their excursion together to the China Philharmonic concert here.
Building on the trust that has been built between conductor and child, Kahchun has carefully designed a year-long music appreciation programme in discussion with teachers, parents and the children themselves.
There will be 4 central components which are intended to enrich and broaden horizons of everyone involved in the project this year:
exposure, where children are brought out of their schools to experience live music making at various destinations around Singapore
interaction, where guest musicians perform inclusive and sensory-friendly concerts at close proximity to the children
immersion, where they spend extensive time with Gustav Mahler's 5th Symphony, learning about "sayang" in his music and his relationship with his wife
reaction - armed with musical knowledge of their own now, the children co-compose and sing their own nursery rhyme based on "sayang".
In 2018, the children will embark on 8 fieldtrips to various concert halls and destinations in Singapore, including not only exposure to western classical music and opera, but also traditional art forms from the Chinese, Malay and Indian communities.
Inspired by the Hot Chocolate concerts organised by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Kahchun will curate 4 inclusive, sensory-friendly performances with a Singaporean flavour - the Red Bean concert series, each lasting 45 minutes for children from all backgrounds and their families, ending with a bowl of heartwarming and nutritious red bean soup for everyone.
Red Bean Concert #1
24 March 2018 / 1430 h / Kebun Baru Community Club
The children embark on a year-long extensive exploration into Gustav Mahler's 5th Symphony and the theme of "sayang" (love in Malay), together with Kahchun Wong and the Nuremberg Symphony alongside exclusive interviews with Marina Mahler, granddaughter of the renowned composer.
Armed with their newfound knowledge of music, it is time to listen to the creative responses of the children.
This is the most important component of all - the children will first draw and pen down their own love letter to a treasured one, and then work in a team to compose a collective poem on the same topic.
Kahchun will then personally set their lyrics into an original song, followed by the children learning to sing their own nursery rhyme, based on the theme of "sayang", inspired by Mahler's 5th.
Ms Murugaian Nirmala, a founder director of Child at Street 11,has extensive experience in creating strategic solutions that raises can-do children from diverse backgrounds. The Centre started operations on 1 April 1999.
Before joining the Centre full time in 2014, she worked for 25 years as a journalist, then a Senior Political Correspondent in The Straits Times, Singapore's English language daily. She was a senior political correspondent when she was seconded to Tamil Murasu, Singapore’s Tamil daily from 2005 to 2011. She returned to The Straits Times as a Senior Writer in 2013.
Prior to joining SPH, she was a senior research officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs. Educated in Towner Primary and Tanjong Katong Girls', she studied Political Science in the University of Singapore.
Janet Lim has worked for more than three decades with the United Nations, retiring as the Assistant High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency. She has extensive international experience, having worked in and directed refugee operations in different parts of the world.
Through her work with refugees all over the world, she has seen the importance of creating opportunities for children who are in the most vulnerable circumstances. In 2015, she became acquainted with the famous El Sistema project in Venezuela which brought music to children from disadvantaged background and was instrumental in mobilising support for refugee children to have access to this project.
Her involvement with Project Infinitude reflects her commitment to its values and vision. Janet is currently a Fellow in Singapore Management University and Think Tanks in Singapore and Geneva, and sits on the Board of two social organisations.
Rosemarie Somaiah, storyteller and artist-educator, runs Asian Storytelling Network. She works with story in all its forms, performing to audiences of all ages at festivals and conferences around the world. A National Arts Council Writer-in-School for several years, she enjoys collaborating with other artists especially musicians in various genres such as classical, folk and contemporary music. Her books include ‘Gateway to Singapore Culture’, ‘Indian Children’s Favourite Stories’ and ‘The Never Mind Girl and other stories’. ‘The Cat’s Tail’ has been translated into Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. ‘The Never Mind Girl’ has been translated into Korean and Tamil. Poems and stories for adults have been published in anthologies by Math Paper Press. She is a Founder Member of the Storytelling Association (Singapore) and a member of the Singapore Drama Educators Association.
Born in 1990, Huang Ting Yu studied cello from the age of six. After graduating from Taipei Municipal University of Education, she obtained her Master of Music in cello performance with Yehuda Hanani at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Ting Yu is a member of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, and is also a certified music teacher by the Ministry of Education, Singapore.