TO ensemble consists of a main ensemble and a community orchestra. The core group/main ensemble is made up of outstanding soloists from various musical traditions, from classical, jazz/pop to carnatic, chinese music.
Main Ensemble / Soloists
Music Director / Composer
An exceptionally versatile pianist, Tze Toh was described by The Straits Times as “an extraordinary musician whose idiom straddles comfortably between genres of classical, jazz, world and film music" and "possesses an original voice”.
From the age of 10 he taught himself piano, and picked up composition and improvisation. After graduating from National University of Singapore with a bachelor degree in Computer Science, he started working full-time as a freelance composer writing for film, animation and contemporary dance.
In 2011, he received the UK Song-writing Contest First Prize (Instrumental Category) for his fusion piece An Indian Folk song meets Jazz which the judges praised for its "originality in its attempt at fusing traditional Indian music and western jazz".
Some of his works include the original music for Singapore's first animated film Sing to the Dawn, Discovery Channel's Man Made Marvels, theatre director/artist Ramesh Meyyappan's Snails and Ketchup (London 2012 Cultural Olympiad), film makers Royston Tan's film Popiah［薄餅］, Erik Wayne's Sands of Our Our Fathers (an SG50 film) and also original composition Tango for a Film about Love for international harmonica virtuso Yasuo Watani.
His works have also been performed in Brazil, Poland, Spain, France, Scotland, UK, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia and Hong Kong. With his ensembles, he has performed for the Indonesia Music Expo (IMEX), ASEAN Jazz Festival, Singapore Arts Festival, MOSAIC Music festival, Hua Yi Arts Festival, Kalaa Utsavam Festival.
An integral part of Singapore’s contemporary music community, as both composer and improviser, he was inspired by Singapore's unique identity - a melting pot of diverse and distinctive cultures from east and west that co-exists harmoniously, which led him to explore music creation as a coming together of diverse elements, be it musical, cultural, social or personal. This very idea of harmony itself inspired him greatly and along with the belief that life and music are a constant journey led him to create the unique fusion group.
He loves the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ennio Morricone, Keith Jarrett, Igor Stravinsky, Yoko Kanno, Nobuo Uematsu, Brad Mehldau, John Williams, among others.
photo by Wei Yuet
Assistant Music Director
A highly sought after violinist and teacher in Singapore, Christina Zhou has been praised for exhibiting a “full rein of her virtuoso abilities” in concert and for presenting performances that are “a testament to true musicianship and fortitude” (The Straits Times).
Christina studied under the late internationally renowned Zvi Zeitlin at the Eastman School of Music in the U.S where she earned a Bachelor’s degree with distinction honors before the age of 21. She then went on to complete her Graduate Diploma under Zuo Jun at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore. Her previous teachers included Sui Yue Long and Zhang Zhen Shan.
Having been awarded full scholarships for Music Academy of the West and Texas Music Festival in the U.S and playing in festivals such as Bowdoin International Music Festival, Christina has a vast experience in both chamber and orchestral playing in the States and Singapore, working closely with world renowned conductors, ensembles and musicians such as Peter Salaff, Jerome Lowenthal, John Churchwell, the Takacs Quartet, Peter Oundjian, Gabor Takács-Nagy, Nicholas McGegan, Tan Dun, Warren Jones, Eiji Oue and many more. She has played for commercial ads such as Toyota and in other commercial recordings as well, both in the States and in Singapore.
An active freelance violinist playing in groups like the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra and re:Sound Collective, Christina is also the first violinist of the SETTS Ensemble. She has performed solo with the ADDO Chamber Orchestra, as well as touring with the PSPA International Ensemble in Malaysia, giving workshops and performing solo and chamber works. She has also performed in Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s VCH Organ Series.
Besides performing the classical repertoire, Christina has a keen interest in other genres of music. She has attended the Creative Strings Workshop in the States, learning from renowned Jazz artists like Christian Howes and many others. She is very experienced in coaching students in orchestral and chamber works, as well as giving workshops and performing in school shows.
With a strong passion for education, Christina is currently the Principal and Director of Coronation Music School and spends most of her time teaching. She focuses on personalized learning, knowing that every individual learns differently and therefore, changes her way of teaching accordingly to the needs of different students. Christina strongly believes that music learning has the ability to shape and enhance one's cognitive abilities and character that will benefit one, for life.
She lives by the motto “Eat. Sleep. Music. Live. Laugh. Love.”
photo by KateLPhotography
Lazar was born in Cochin, in the state of Kerala, India. The son of the late renowned violinist Shri. Sebastine Thurakkal, he had been been provided with a strong musical foundation from an early age. In 1984, Lazar joined R L V College of Music & Institute of Fine Arts in Tripunithura for a 4 year diploma course in music called Ganabhooshanam, where he graduated and scored 1st rank in Kerala state for violin. He went on to pursue a 3 year postgraduate diploma course Ganapraveena and passed in 1991.
Violinist Lazar T. Sebastine is active as a soloist, orchestra musician and recording artist. He has toured and performed in various parts of the world, from Europe, Central America, Oceania to Asia. He has performed at prestigious events like the Singapore Arts Festival, Soorya Festival in India; International Cervantino in Mexico and the International Conference of Composers in Vietnam. He has also performed with some of the world’s famous orchestras like Vladimir orchestra in Moscow and Hanoi symphony orchestra in Vietnam.
As a graded artist with All India Radio & Door darsan, Lazar has frequently made recordings with the Singapore broadcasting company Mediacorp and has composed music for television, films, devotional albums, contemporary and classical music albums.
When Lazar is not performing, he devotes his time to teaching. Currently working as a part-time tutor at the Centre for the Arts at the National University of Singapore, he is also an instructor with Singapore Indian Orchestra and Choir.
photo by Wei Yuet
Teo Boon Chye
One of the top saxophonists in Singapore, Teo Boon Chye is versatile, musical and virtuosic and as a result a highly sought-after sessionist, coach, performer for a diverse range of genres from pop, jazz, latinto experimental projects. He has been an endorser of Yamaha saxophone since 2011 and an important artist for Yamaha Singapore, holding workshops, performances to educate the public at large about the saxophone instrument.
He has toured and performed in Asia with renowned pop artists such as Sandy Lam, Aaron Kwok, Ho Yao San, Chyi Yu, Tony Leung, Hacken Lee, Dick Lee, Eric Moo and also with jazz vocalist Jacintha Abisheganaden. As a sessionist, he has also recorded on the albums of Sandy Lam, Tracy Huang, Fong Fei Fei, Stefanie Sun, Ho Yao San, Jacky Cheung, Wen Zhang, Stella Chang, Eric Moo etc. He is also a former member of one of Singapore's most well-known bands Jive Talkin'.
He is a highly respected improviser in the Singapore jazz scene, and has participated in the Singapore Blues Festival, Latin festival, MOSAIC Music festival, Singapore International Jazz festival among others.
photo by Wei Yuet
Jonathan Charles Tay
Tenor Jonathan Charles Tay has performed actively in his native Singapore, as well as abroad in the United States. Jonathan attained his Bachelor of Music at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Neil Rosenshein and following that his Masters at Northwestern University, studying with W. Stephen Smith.
In recital, Jonathan has performed Dichtelierbe and Winterreise with the Young Musician's Society, Die schöne Müllerin at The Esplanade and The Arts House in Singapore, Charles Loeffler’s Five Irish Fantasies at the Manhattan School of Music, and Finzi’s Till Earth Outwears and Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte at Northwestern University. He was also the featured soloist with the New Mexico Symphonic Chorus singing Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor and Horn.
On the opera stage, his roles include Astolf in Schubert's Die Versworenen with the Manhattan School of Music, Edoardo in Rossini's La Cambiale di Matrimonio with the West Side Opera Society. Also Muley Graves in Ricky Ian Gordon's Grapes of Wrath, Laurie in Mark Adamo’s Little Women and Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte with the Bienen School of Music Opera Studio. Jonathan also performed with Opera Southwest, as Re Gonzaga and L’araldo in Franco Faccio’s Amleto, a new-world premiere, as well as being the understudy for the cover role of Amleto. In Singapore, Jonathan has played The Sailor in Dido and Aeneas, Bach's Kaffee Kantate as the Narrator in a staged production, Stravinsky's Mavra as the Hussar and the role of Peter Quint in New Opera Singapore’s most recent production of The Turn of the Screw. In 2016, Jonathan will be performing the roles of Peppe in Donizetti’s Rita, as well as Orpheus in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld with New Opera Singapore. He is also appearing as the Steersman in Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman with the Richard Wagner Association of Singapore later this year.
Upon his return to Singapore, Jonathan has begun an artist residency with New Opera Singapore, and will feature in their upcoming productions and community concerts. He has also begun teaching, and enjoys sharing music and singing with the next generation.
Yap Shing Min
Yap Shing Min graduated from the University of Birmingham with a Joint First Class Honours degree in Music and Mathematics under the Singapore Public Service Commission’s Overseas Specialist Award in 2002, and later obtained a Masters Degree in Historical Performance (Voice) with Distinction from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD). Her principal voice teachers include Buddug Verona James, Lim-Quek Soo Hiang and Andrea Calladine.
Shing Min has given several successful recitals and performed as soloist, both locally and abroad. In 2009, she collaborated in a lute song project with Lynda Sayce, one of the UK’s leading lutenists and director of the lute ensemble Chordophony, that culminated in a recital of Dowland’s lute songs. She has also given recitals in Cardiff and Zurich, premiering Andrew Wilson-Dickson’s Obsession, a French cantata for soprano, Baroque violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord in 2009.
Locally, Shing Min has performed at the 2015 and 2013 Singapore Lieder Festival, co-presented by the Sing Song Club and the Arts House. She has also sung solos with the TO Ensemble (2016); soprano solo in Bach’s Magnificat in D (2012) and in Handel’s Messiah with the Voices of the East Indies, conducted by Ng Tian Hui (2010); soprano solo in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Pie Jesu at the YTL Concert of Celebration featuring Andrea Bocelli at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (2010); first fairy solo in Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer’s Night Dream (2009) and the soprano solo in Bach’s Mass in B minor (2008) with The Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Lim Yau. The Philharmonic Choral Society has also presented Shing Min in a recital entitling From Britten to Dowland to ‘Songs from the Chinese’ with guest guitarist from the UK, William Browne in 2010.
A choral enthusiast, Shing Min has sung with numerous choirs including the Raffles Chorale, the Birmingham University Singers, the Singapore Symphony Chorus, the Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the RWCMD Chorus and the Welsh Camerata, a specialist early music choir in Cardiff, benefiting from the direction and musicianship of conductors such as Sir Charles Mackerras, Lim Yau, Joseph Flummerfelt, Chifuru Matsubara and Andrew Wilson-Dickson.
photo by Wei Yuet
A semi-finalist of the Montreux Jazz Voice Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland 2017, Helena has wowed audiences with her nuanced interpretations of jazz standards and exhilarating vocal improvisations. Her charisma and amazing energy on stage is fueled by her great love for music, singing and in particular, vocal improvisation.
Growing up in a musical family, Helena Hulsman was immersed in music since a young age. Trained in drums since the age of 14, Helena was first exposed to jazz by participating in jazz workshops and courses in jazz drums during her university studies (Marine Biology) in Amsterdam. She formed a folk/pop band led by her friend Annemarie Brijder, in which she played cajon, djembe, ukulele and xylophone, and sang backing vocals to Dutch and French originals by Annemarie.
Her interest in jazz and her passion for singing led her to seek vocal training with established Rotterdam singers and educators Ntjam Rosie and Ai Ming Oei.
In 2014, Helena participated as jazz vocalist in a North Sea Jazz Round Town Jazz Recordings workshop series, led by established double bass player Stefan Lievestro, which resulted in a performance at LantarenVenster during the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.
In April 2017, Helena participated in an intensive Jazz @ Red Dot workshop in Singapore, organized by JazzAsia, where she was coached by US faculty Rory Stuart, Camila Meza and Jason Palmer.
violin / viola
Benjamin Wong graduated with honours from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music of National University of Singapore where he studied under Associate Prof. Zhang Manchin, Principal Violist of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, after being awarded full scholarships. He also studied violin with Mr. Cheung Wai Lap, violinist from the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
Benjamin has taken masterclasses with many international artists such as Paul Silverthorne, Yizhak Schotten, David Erlich. As a chamber musician, he was finalist in the Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition and has participated in chamber music programmes and festivals in France, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong and Australia. An active orchestra player, he been performed under the baton of Eiji Oue, Philipe Herreweghe Mark Wigglesworth, Robert Spano, Tan Dun, and many other great conductors.
He was the Principle violist of the Hong Kong Baptist University Orchestra, Collegium Musicum Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Youth Strings. He was also Principle violist of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra, and was selected to be part of a collaboration concert with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 2012 and 2014. Benjamin is now performing with Metropolitan Festival Orchestra and Singapore Lyric Orchestra.
Besides classical music, Benjamin is experienced in other styles and genres. He recorded a pop song with Mag Lam and also performed with Jazz singer Laura Fygi. He also toured with the W!LD RICE theatre to perform the play " The Importance of Being Earnest" in Macau.
As an Music educator, Benjamin was appointed as a Leader-mentor for Singapore National Youth Orchestra in the Lanxess-SNYO Classic Concert in 2014. He had also conducted music activities with students in SOTA (The School of the Arts, Singapore). He is now teaching at Coronation Music School and Anglo-Chinese School (International).
One of Singapore's most highly sough-after bassists, Wendy has performed with Akira Jimbo (Casiopea), James LoMenzo (Megadeth), Mel Gayner (Simple Minds), Shaggy, Emma Shapplin, and Riki Hendrix. Events she has played at includes the Singapore Wine & Jazz Festival, MTV Asia Awards, ESPNStar Sports X-Games Asia and Baybeats Music Festival. Her instrumental EP “Between Here And Then” (2008) received glowing reviews by Musikuz (Czech) and Bass Frontiers Magazine (US).
As a Yamaha endorsed bassist, she had judged at Yamaha Asian Beat band competitions, and conducted bass clinics for Yamaha. In music production, Wendy has composed and arranged music and sound design for slot machine games and mobile devices, and produced inflight radio programs for Singapore Airlines, Air China and Thai Airways.
Dai Da has indulged himself in the beauty of the traditional Chinese instrument, Erhu, ever since he was six. He had already been recognized as one of the top young amateur musicians in his hometown, Chengdu, and he was involved in many provincial and national musical activities and performances. At 16, he was invited by Hong Kong Soong Ching Ling Foundation as the only young artist from Sichuan Province to participate in one of the Millennium celebrations in Hong Kong.
In 2002, Dai Da was invited to pursue his bachelor degree in Singapore as a scholar, and has been a member of NUS Chinese Orchestra (NUSCO) since 2003. Besides being the president for NUSCO for one year, he was the principle player and soloist for various NUSCO annual concerts, and he was one of the pioneers in the NUSCO Huqin sextet, where multiple fusion music were experimented and performed.
Dai Da is a dynamic musician who loves to pursue for opportunities in fusion music. After graduation, he has been actively exploring the fusion of Chinese music with jazz and Indian music, injecting strong elements of improvisation.
photo by Kelvin Tan