The next generation of Singapore talent is already making a stand on the global stage.
The December Spirit Of Giving: A Musical Homecoming Concert showcased talent that have made a strong impression on the international stage.
Leading up to headliner Nathania Ong, this charity show in aid of arts education for underserved youths, features other inspiring up-and-coming artistic talent like Loic Lastennet, Melissa Hecker, Syah Riszuan and Corey Koh.
We speak with Corey Koh and Nathania Ong about their respective journeys.
Nathania Ong On Song
The effervescent Nathania Ong always had her eye on the big stage. She just didn’t expect it to come so soon.
Her training at LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, prepared her for the stage. Just two years into her career, she’s already walking the main boards, playing Eponine in the West End production of Les Miserables.
A precocious talent, Nathania’s talent surfaced early, at the age of five, when she performed the national song Home in front of the late President S.R. Nathan.
She has since gone on to impress the likes of Cameron Mackintosh who cast her in Les Mis. But for all her international exposure, Nathania is still a relative unknown in Singapore. Something she hopes to set right soon.
Having performed in the Pangdemonium production of Into The Woods she finds herself the main attraction in Wednesday’s charity concert for underserved children, The Spirit Of Giving.
In the video interview, she talks to STORM-ASIA about her rising career, her methods and her enthusiasm for the future.
Corey Scores On The Big Stage
Corey Koh recently began his first semester at Northwestern University in Chicago. Despite already being recognised as a musical talent and with numerous headline performances under his belt, he has sought out further high-level formal training from the best musical programmes in the world.
Corey listens to everything from classical to metal. As his love for music goes beyond a single genre, he explains that it doesn’t make sense for him to remain creatively in a silo.
While he maintains his passion for classical music and still enjoys performing, Corey feels that the genre boxes you in as an artist, and the consequent bubble limits you to a specific audience.
Enjoying The Trip
Corey is currently on a journey of self-discovery both as an artist and as an individual, wanting to explore and pursue his greater love of music.
Having spent much of the past few months travelling to gigs in Japan and Philippines, he is making his way back home. Corey relishes the opportunity to travel abroad to perform, experience different cultures and practices, and mingle with their musicians, describing the process as eye opening.
“Reading about other cultures or seeing footage doesn’t beat the experience of being there for an extended period of time. It’s part of the journey and I’m enjoying it,” Corey says.
Forging a Path
Corey experienced a stereotypical Asian upbringing, his Mum wanting him to have basic musical education and grow up being able to play an instrument.
From a young age, he was enrolled in violin, piano and even cello classes. However, he ended up hating them all and made no progress.
In the meantime, Corey had fallen in love with the sound of Il Divo, a classical vocal group his family often listened to while driving or around the house.
Willing to give tuition another try, around the age of 6 he suggested the idea of singing lessons to his mother. While initially sceptical, she eventually got on board. In a sense it was the classical genre that chose Corey.
Despite making such a mature decision at a young age, the adolescent still saw music as a hobby and took a relaxed approach.
Corey recalls the experience of enjoying music at a deeper level when he was 11 or 12. It was this transition that led to him taking music much more seriously from the age of 14, and at 15 he enrolled in a programme for young artists. Having enjoyed his first taste of professional training he was hungry for more.
As Corey began to consider his career path during his A-level years, he knew music had to be the focus. He had never known anything other than music, and the decision felt natural.
His first taste of stardom followed a charity engagement, for which he started a choir and produced a single in both Chinese and English that went viral on various social media platforms.
“Music is something you have to have a passion for. This is a very transparent profession. You present yourself to your audience with no filter or pretence.”
The audience will quickly figure out your intentions. He admits the learning curve thus far has been steep but feels that deep immersion is the best way to learn about the industry.
Corey’s latest single, his take on the pop song, Only Love, is but a taste of this budding talent.