social inclusion through music
In Southeast Asia, classical music is gaining popularity. Through arts and culture, there is huge potential for people-to-people interaction and understanding.
Coming from a non-musical, working class 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 cornet players. This pivotal event turned out to be life-changing for him.
Inspired by how his own music journey started by chance, Kahchun co-founded project infinitude with Marina Mahler, the granddaughter of the composer Gustav Mahler. Its pilot edition in 2016 was generously underwritten by Marina, allowing it to grow sustainably and now taking on a new life in Singapore.
An inclusive movement for children, his vision is to nurture a whole generation of music lovers who listen to the beauty in art, in addition to other unique and diverse voices in our shared community. He wants to encourage children from all walks of life to believe that they deserve to enjoy music, regardless of their background.
In 2017, Kahchun invited 6-year old children to his rehearsals with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and in return, they taught him how to dance the flamenco. They are students of Child at Street 11, non-profit child development centre committed to creating opportunities and building brighter futures for less privileged children.
Building on the trust that has been built between conductor and child, he has made it a priority to return to Singapore when possible, to spend meaningful time at Child at Street 11.
Kahchun also believes that music inculcates cognitive and psychological life skills in young people. Now into its third year, project infinitude’s curriculum has been crafted through a series of intensive dialogue between Kahchun and the children themselves, alongside their guardians, teachers and community leaders. Additional support has come from the President of the Mahler Foundation Marina Mahler, Founding Director of Child at Street 11 Nirmala Murugaian, retired Assistant High Commissioner of the United Nations Janet Lim and renowned Singaporean storyteller and pedagogue Rosemarie Somaiah.
Frequent guests at the Esplanade Concert Hall and ardent fans of the Singapore Symphony, the children have attended not only educational concerts but also Puccini’s La Boheme, Bernstein’s West Side Story and Mahler’s 5th Symphony.
Fascinated by Mahler’s 5th Symphony, the children have explored the theme of “sayang” (Malay for love) together with Kahchun, alongside exclusive interviews with Marina Mahler, granddaughter of the composer.
Through music, the children ask questions and learn more about life and the adult world.
Now armed with musical knowledge of their own, the children would co-compose their own song with Kahchun, based on "sayang".
As a team effort, the children have come up with phrases and words, which would then be pieced together by Singaporean hip-hop artist Falling Feathers, and finally recorded by professional musicians.
This song-writing phase has been supported generously by the National Arts Council.