SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL, APRIL 12 2015

“Food is important to Singaporeans. Hawker centers serve up local fare such as prawn noodles, char kway tiao, chicken rice, laksa, mee goreng and other dishes. It never fails to surprise me that if I make mention of the Redhill hawker center near where I live to a Singaporean colleague or friend, he or she will have been there and will know that one particular stall renowned for its  carrot cake (not what you might expect). So if you were a Singaporean living in Boston working on a commission for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, where would you turn for inspiration?  In Emily Koh’s own words, ‘I found myself thinking of home and all the delicious foods I miss that are unique to Singapore…. All I wanted in the months I spent writing this work was to stuff myself silly on all these delicacies at a local hawker fest.’The result was Jia[k]. Just ten minutes in length, it is a concerto grosso of sorts with different sections of the orchestra – progressing from brass to strings to woodwinds – conjuring up the smells, sights, sounds and, yes, tastes of a Singapore hawker center. There is a great passage for the double basses, which comes as no surprise since it’s Koh instrument. The jaunty pizzicato solo line played by Guennadi Mouzyka, Principal Double Bass, was heard over the growl of the rest of the section, and evolved into a duet with Karen Yeo, the section’s Fixed Chair. Jia[k] ended abruptly with a snap. A jolt to the ear, just like the fiery chilies in Southeast Asian food can be to the tongue.”

THE STRAD MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 15 2014

“The 35 selected candidates from 14 countries will perform a range of repertoire, including kilobyte, a commissioned work by Singaporean composer Emily Koh.”

THE STRAITS TIMES SINGAPORE, JUNE 17 2014

“The Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) meanwhile, has scheduled for it’s upcoming 2014/15 season a work from conservatory alumnus Chen Zhangyi, 30, and commissions from Emily Koh, 28, as well as Terrence Wong, 25, who has just completed his bachelor’s degree in music under the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art’s joint programme with London’s Royal College of Music…

Yet he and composers such as Koh, a Yong Siew Toh alumnus who is finishing a doctorate at Brandeis University, Massachusetts, say it is still tough to make a living out of writing music full-time…

In contrast, Koh has this year written music for several American ensembles focusing on contemporary music, including Chicago’s Ensemble Dal Niente, the New York New Music Ensemble and the New York-based Talea Ensemble.”

THE BOSTON CLASSICAL REVIEW, FEBRUARY 1 2014

“The final piece on the program, Emily Koh’s synpunkt, for alto flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet and percussion, played out like an intense conversation between the players. Flutist Sue-Ellen Tcherepnin and clarinetist Katherine Matasy traded motifs back and forth like clever debaters, while percussionist Schulz edged his way into full participation. Like many conversations, synpunkt had a tendency to wander. Yet the emergence of interesting timbres, like Tcherepnin’s humming into the flute, and engaging motifs, like Matasy’s lovely solo in the third section, kept the audience’s interest.”

THE STRAITS TIMES SINGAPORE, JULY 9 2013

“Two Singaporean works that received World Premieres were aggressively atonal…

Emily Koh’s bridging : isolation (2013) treated saxophone and violin like fraternal twins, each with its own voice that could be heard separately or together. In the latter, they bonded with synergy at times, yet brought out moments of conflict, with Shane Thio’s piano being an impartial observer.”

NEW MUSIC BOX, JULY 2 2013

“The final student work of the evening was Emily Koh’s cycrotations for percussion quartet, which I remember for it’s haunting, ghostly and spacious quality.”

THE STRAITS TIMES SINGAPORE, MAY 5 2013

“The second half of the concert showed the pianist at her best. Her keen sensitivity to the pianistic and harmonic idiom of Si fallor, Sum (2008) by Singapore composer Emily Koh made her reading cogent. The tricky running notes and leaping chords were tackled with ease, and the Zen-like, Asian-influenced melodies were masterful in their meditative nature.”

THE STRAITS TIMES SINGAPORE, APRIL 29 2013

“Her programme for the evening includes a 10-minute Si Fallor, Sum by 27-year-old United States-based Singaporean composer Emily Koh. She played a shorter version for her own graduation ceremony from the conservatory in 2010.

‘It shows a different texture for the piano. There are some very interesting dreamy moments. I think it will be quite an effective piece,’ she says.”

KENT RIDGE COMMON PRESS, MARCH 20 2013

“On Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013, two highly accomplished musicians, composer Emily Koh and conductor Wong Kah Chun, were awarded the inaugural Paul Abisheganaden Grant for Artistic Excellence.

Despite being only 26 years old, each of the talented artists have won awards from Singapore and overseas arts institutions in recognition of their outstanding vibrant gifts. Besides being invited to conduct performances (Wong) and commisioned for musical works (Koh), they have also contributed back to the community through Kids’ Philharmoni@sg or teaching music to the less privileged respectively.”

THE STRAITS TIMES SINGAPORE, FEBRUARY 29 2013

“An awards ceremony honoured conductor Wong Kah Chun and contemporary classical composer Emily Koh, both 26, as the first two recipients of the grant, which recognises emerging young talents in the performing arts among students and alumni of the National University of Singapore.

Koh will spend the grant money on attending music festivals and conferences in music composition and contemporary improvisation, such as the Asian Composers League Festival and Conference, the Etchings Festival held in France, and Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice in Boston.

Koh says in an email to Life!: “It really means a lot to me for my work to be recognised in Singapore as this is where I first gained interest in music and composing, and because it helps my family relate better to my work.

Her father, 51, is a business man and her mother, 53, is an administration assistant in an IT company.

Koh, a Bachelor of Music graduate, has won many awards and grants including the United States-based Barlow Commission and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Morton Gould Young Composers Award.”

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