Corporate Development

Farewell to Assoc Prof Kelly Tang

By Associate Professor Eugene Dairianathan, Visual and Performing Arts Academic Group

On the night of 18 November 2011, Associate Professor Kelly Tang of the Visual and Performing Arts Academic Group was conferred the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest arts honour, by Singapore President Mr Tony Tan at the Istana.

Assoc Prof Tang has composed a wide range of musical works, which have been performed internationally by world-renowned symphony orchestras, Grammy-winning Jazz legends and school musicians alike.

He maintains that being a consummate composer and educator are absolutely complimentary. “I’ve always believed that the performer doesn’t actually deliver art. The artwork only serves as a mirror, which reflects the intrinsic beauty which already exists within each audience member. It’s more a process of self-discovery rather than delivery.”

Just as he was inspired by Mr Leong Yoon Pin, his late NIE mentor and fellow Cultural Medallion recipient, Tang has continued the legacy of engaging trainee-teachers in musical excellence. Creative minds to emerge recently from NIE include alumni Mr Benjamin Lim Yi and Mr Benjamin Yeo, who blaze brilliant compositional trails even as they excel as educators.

Said Assoc Prof Tang, “For the past fifteen years, it was my honour to have worked alongside the highly dedicated and accomplished Music team at NIE, specifically, colleagues imbued with a relentless passion to interrogate the meaning of the arts; educators with an uncanny knack of teasing out the potential hidden within the most unlikely of students, inspiring them to blossom far beyond themselves as confident artists and teachers.”

Assoc Prof Kelly Tang receiving his award from Singapore President, Mr Tony Tan

“Each year, our engagement with successive generations of enthusiastic students brought us refreshing waves of new ideas, making NIE a fertile nexus of perspectives, which nourished my growth as artist and educator. I feel proud and privileged to have played a role in the lives of many inspirational music teachers who are now making a major difference in bringing the arts deeper into the hearts of younger generations.”

“It was also at NIE that I received myriad career-defining opportunities for writing new musical works. Each new composition seemed to spawn further opportunities for composing, accumulating in this current oeuvre of works”.

Assoc Prof Tang has since moved from training teachers to preparing aspiring artists at a younger age. “Such moments of enlightenment at NIE will remain close to my heart as I lead a new team of artist-educators in facing pioneering challenges in a new appointment as Dean of Arts at SOTA (School of the Arts), Singapore.”

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