Tuesday, March 8, 2011

From Singapore to Buffalo...and back

Diana Soh
As noted in our previous post, UB's composition program has a global reach. Composer/pianist/singer Diana Soh came to Buffalo from Singapore to study with David Felder. Not only is she earning her PhD, but she ended up working for UB's Center for 21st Century Music as an assistant to Managing Director J. T. Rinker.  She's returned to her native country, where she has just been appointed to the Music Faculty of Singapore's School of the Arts. Her career is flourishing: she has just been nominated for the prestigious Gaudeamus Prize, and has been selected for the IRCAM 1 course in Paris. But she retains many fond memories of the Center.

"I really miss Buffalo, all my friends and working with JT and David on Center events as well as being a graduate student there. I find that the artists that the center brings to UB are all top-notch and I have learnt so much from each and everyone of them. Not just musically but especially in the more human aspects. Some of whom I still keep in contact with, with no other reasons than that we got along and I regard them as friends.

"The next best thing, besides having David as your teacher, is the numerous opportunities to have your works read by important ensembles like Ensemble Surplus and the Arditti Quartet, JACK quartet and numerous others. And to have real life feedback with such established groups. I'd like to think that such an opportunity is priceless...well, put it this way, even if you had x amount of $ to spend, these groups just might not play your music, but if you are a UB student, they have been hired just for you to workshop and record your music! Amazing right?

"The program is also very supportive of our external activities, premieres, festivals etc and provides a flexibility much needed for a developing composer. Also I must highlight strongly that the centers support of the new and untested is very encouraging and of extremely high standards on the global scale...as this is not the case in most parts of the world, be it for financial reasons, sense of security or even a matter of 'taste.'

"Also, it's exciting to have monthly lectures by renowned musicians and composer to share their work and their views and to have masterclasses with them. I found the composition program to be enriching and stimulating with a varied group of composers and mentors like David and Jeff who are experienced experts that have helped me blossomed over the past 4 years. The electronic studies with Cort Lippe has also yielded brilliant students like Chikashi Miyama among others. 

"There is a sense of camaradarie in the Buffalo group of composers and no one is shy to share their views which makes for a great platform of exchange. I miss them very much and I urge them to make full use of their time in Buffalo as once we are out in the real world...life is different." 

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