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Blending East and West with The TENG Ensemble

For over a decade, Singaporean arts group TENG Ensemble has been lifting the profile of Singaporean music through a unique fusion of the contemporary and traditional. Now, they’re raising the bar even higher with the debut of their first digital concert at The Fullerton Hotels Singapore.

Blending East and West with The TENG Ensemble

Formed in 2009, homegrown Singaporean arts group TENG Ensemble has been pushing boundaries with its unique brand of music for over a decade, constantly blending the traditional and the contemporary, and the East and the West. Being a 'fusion Chinese music ensemble that seizes opportunities to excite the audience by exploring new boundaries and innovating', says co-founder Yang Ji Wei, is what really sets TENG apart from other traditional Chinese groups.

The group's signature works have always focused on Singapore and its rich and diverse musical culture. The key question, then, is how best to reach out to the younger audiences who might not be so familiar with traditional music. Says Ji Wei, "That's where our re-imagining of traditional works comes into play. By combining our more contemporary sound with the use of new media and digital technologies, we can be more accessible and palatable to a wide range of audiences."
 


Reminiscence – a specially commissioned music piece by The TENG Ensemble for The Fullerton Hotel Singapore

Going Digital

Digitalisation, and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, has also presented many opportunities for TENG to reinvent itself and look for fresh ways to engage with its audiences.

One of TENG's longstanding partnerships is with The Fullerton Heritage—a collaboration which is extra meaningful because of the emphasis both organisations place on preserving and raising awareness of Singapore's heritage and culture. For the past four years, this invariably sold-out collaboration has brought the Lion City's history to life through the annual Where the River Always Flows heritage concert series held at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

2020 marks the inaugural digital edition of the yearly concert. Held in conjunction with Singapore's 55th National Day celebrations, the concert takes place against the backdrop of iconic locations around The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore—such as The Clifford Pier, which occupies the former landing point of Singapore's forefathers.

For Ji Wei and his team, while going digital is exciting, it also means a lot more preparation beforehand to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

"A digital concert requires more equipment and an even more expansive set of skills to piece the content together, so it's definitely a more challenging task than a physical concert," he says.

"Preparation begins before we even get on stage, because we have to ensure the ensemble is well rehearsed and that all of our musicians are in top form for the performance. When something is uploaded online, it becomes immortalised—so our recording has to be of impeccable quality."

Uplifting the Community Through Music

Giving back to the community is something that is not unfamiliar to TENG, and the group uses its music to support the community as much as it can.

"We introduced TENG Gives Back to perform for the underserved in homes and hospices, paying forward the goodwill of our donors by bringing smiles to those who need it the most. We've also launched a specialised in-school music programme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds," says Ji Wei. "We passionately believe that music has the power to heal, uplift and empower spirits."

The TENG Company recently introduced TENG Goes Digital, a campaign which brings TENG's music to the public via digital platforms—through initiatives like Studio Sessions which bring music into the comfort of people's homes to help them cope with stay-home measures, and the digitalisation of TENG Gives Back.

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WHERE THE RIVER ALWAYS FLOWS V

Where the River Always Flows went digital through Facebook Live on 8 August 2020 on The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore's Facebook pages.

Viewers enjoyed pieces from The Forefathers Project—a culmination of four years' worth of research by TENG to uncover the origins of Singapore's Chinese music—played for the first time in a public setting, alongside their unique renditions of popular hits like Hotel California by the Eagles and Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy.

On top of the performances, the Facebook Live stream also featured enticing giveaways from The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore, including exclusive TENG memorabilia as well as dining privileges and a two-day one-night staycation at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

As a home-grown Singapore brand, The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts is honoured to be part of this meaningful digital initiative which will bring a unique Singapore sound to the world and show our solidarity with our country and our community during the National Day season.