Singapore Armed Forces Band

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The Singapore Armed Forces Band (commonly known as the SAF Band) form the musical arm of the Singapore Armed Forces. Playing a vital role in ceremonial parades and ceremonies, the SAF Band provides musical support for parades such as the National Day Parade, SAF Day Parade, Passing Out Parades, Change of Command Parades and other military duties. Other than discharging Ceremonial Duties, the SAF Band also presents public concerts that aim to bring a wide range of music to the populace. They also seek to build up the band's music repertoire into an extensive array of styles and variety.

Through the years, the SAF Band have worked with several distinguished conductors and soloists including Frank Renton, Steven Mead, John Sharpley, Evelyn Glennie, Jan Van der Roost, Toshio Akiyama, Yasuhide Ito, Eric Whitacre and Hardy Mertens. More recently, the Band was conducted by Philip Sparke, Frank Ticheli, James Barnes, Roger Swift and Prof. James F Keene of the University of Illinois.

The SAF Band has recently represented Singapore at international music festivals. These includes, 2000 - the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers street parade in Australia; 2001 - the Festival International de Musiques Militaires in Saumur, France; 2002 - the Kuala Lumpur Military Tattoo in Malaysia; 2006 - the Brunei International Tattoo in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam; the Wonju Tattoo in South Korea; 2007 - the India Tattoo in New Delhi; the Kuala Lumpur International Tattoo in Malaysia; 2008 - the Quebec International Tattoo in Canada; 2009 - the Nanchang Tattoo in China; 2010 - the Japan Self-Defense Force Tattoo in Tokyo, Japan; 2011 - the Bremen International Tattoo in Germany; the Brunei International Tattoo in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam; 2012 - the Spasskaya International Tattoo in Moscow, Russia; 2013 - the Malmo Tattoo in Sweden; 2014 - the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland; the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland

History[edit]

Singapore's military music would begin a year before it became self-governing. The formation of the Singapore Military Forces Staff Band on 1 June 1958 spelled the beginning of the nation's love affair with military bands. From this core group of 45 musicians would come five generations of military musicians from the Lion City's armed services.

WO1 Frederick Roy, the 15th/19th Hussars bandmaster became the first Director of Music of the SMFSB, a duty he did until 1962. The band's main duty then was as musical support to the Singapore Infantry Regiment's activities. One of his young musicians, SSGT Abdullah Ahmad, was sent to the Royal Military School of Music for further training, later becoming a Warrant Officer upon graduating. The band's first composition, the Singapore Infantry Regiment March, later became the Singapore Army's official march.

Lt. Edward Crowcroft of the York and Northumberland Brigade Band succeeded WO1 Roy in September 1962 as Bandmaster and Director of Music. By November, it became the Singapore Infantry Regiment Band, and WO1 Arthur Edward Hollowell, DOM of the Band of the Parachute Brigade, replaced Lt. Crowcroft. He became a Captain by commission and led the band to its first overseas visit in 1964: the band's visit to Kuala Lumpur as part of the Merdeka Parade on 31 August that year.

A year after, WO1 Ahmad was suddenly appointed the Singapore Armed Forces Director of Music, becoming a Lieutenant, and later as Captain. He led the new SIR Band to the very first National Day Parade on the Padang the following year. By 1968, the band made its first recording under his direction.

Two years after, the Band of the Singapore Armed Forces was formed, with joint headquarters with the SIR Band at HQ 1 Singapore Infantry Btn., Beach Road Camp. They both later moved to HQ 3 SIB at Ulu Pandan Camp and later at 5 SIB at Portsdown Camp, and by 1972, the latter band was led by a Republic of Singapore Police officer, WO1 Ervin Dragon.

By January the next year, a new band, the NSF (National Service-Full-time) Band, was formed at Telok Pagu Camp at Changi. WO2 Alan Teo became its first conductor.

May saw the first name change for the bands. They were renamed as

  1. 3 Singapore Infantry Btn. Band, also known as the SIR Band
  2. 4 Singapore Infantry Btn. Band, also known as the Band of the Singapore Armoured Regiment
  3. 2 Singapore Infantry Btn. Band

Alan Teo, by then a Captain, left the DOM post at 2 SIB band by July that year, to join the then newly created SAF Music and Drama Company. Tonni Wei, then a Sergeant and playing with one of the bands, was then studying at the Royal Military School of Music, graduating in October 1976 to become the bandmaster of 2 SIB Band, now commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

In 1975, the 3 SIB Band soon moved to Jurong Camp, the 3rd Division headquarters.

By 1977, a change of titles happened by January. Tonni Wei joined the MDC and Alan Teo returned to his old post. By February, 3 SIB Band became the SIR Band yet again, and 2nd Lt. Teo joined the now renamed Band of the Republic of Singapore Navy-the former 2 SIB Band-to Sembawang Camp and the RSN School of Naval Training. The SIR Band would later relocate itself at Jurong Camp that May. Peter Yan, then a musician Sergeant with the Army, and a part of the SIR Band, was then studying at Uxbridge at the RAF School of Music for Director of Music training. He graduated the next year and soon joined the RSN Band as its director.

Cpt. Ahmad soon retired from his post in May 1979.

As the 1980s arrived, a new director for the SIR Band came in the form of Sgt. Terry Seah, also another RMSM graduate, who also became a commissioned officer in 1981. By 1982, the SAR Band (4SIB Band) was soon relaunched as the Republic of Singapore Air Force Band, and would later move to Tengah Air Base. The SIR Band was also relaunched as the Singapore Army Band, but the band's new name and image never caught on.

As the 1980s progressed the public image of the bands was positive indeed, reinforced with increased participation of the service bands in the NDP and major military events such as the Open Houses as well as their concerts. In 1986 the RSN Band welcomed its first lady musician. Their first appearance together in the NDP was in 1987's edition in the Padang conducted by the SAF's first Senior Director of Music MAJ Erwin Dragon, with another joint performance in 1990. 1988 saw the rebirth of the SAF Music Board and the formation of the SAF Symphonic Wind Band.

The SAF Band was formed in 1994 from men and women of the Singapore Infantry Regiment Band, Republic of Singapore Air Force Band and Republic of Singapore Navy Band. The formation of SAF Band come in a restructuring of the bands within the Ministry of Defence for more effective distribution of manpower. From 1994, the different bands within the SAF Band operated at different camps and locations. The SAF Central Band and SAF Band HQ(RSNB) were by the time of the merger in Tanglin Camp, Parade Band B (RSAFB) in Tengah Airbase and Parade Band A (SIRB) in Pasir Laba Camp, as they formerly represented the three branches of the SAF before their 1994 merger which resulted to these bands playing for the SAF at various events, including their participation in the National Day Parade as regular participants and arrival honours ceremonies at the Istana. These sections combined in November 2003 after the completion of renovations work to the 'White House', the former British Colonial Officer's Mess in Nee Soon Camp.

In 2009, the Parade Bands were renamed as Ceremonial Bands to reflect their duties more accurately. In the same year, Ceremonial Band C, the youngest of the in-house bands, was formed to meet the growing manpower shortages within the unit.

[edit]

The logo of SAF Band is a combination of the three services within the armed forces. Light blue signifies the air division, red signifies the land division and deep blue signifies the sea division. They are all united within the lyre, which is a universal symbol of military musicians. The logo is topped with the National Coat of Arms which was launched on 3 December 1959 together with the National Flag and National Anthem at the installation of the Yang di-Pertuan Negara at the City Hall steps and adopted by government agencies nationwide. Below the logo is a banner inscribed with the Band's motto, "In Harmony". The logo was designed by retired Senior Director of Music MAJ Tonni Wei and Military Expert (ME) 3 (then SSG) Goh Poh Wah.

Structure of SAF Band[edit]

The unit is made up of 5 sections: Band HQ, SAF Central Band, SAF Ceremonial Band A, SAF Ceremonial Band B, SAF Ceremonial Band C.

Band HQ[edit]

The HQ is the main support wing of the SAF Band. It provides logistical and administrative assistance to the operations and training of the SAF Band. It consists of administrative staff and the Training Wing, whose function is to train musicians and to prepare them for their duties in the main bands.

The SAF Band HQ is led by the Band's Commanding Officer – Senior Director of Music, Military Expert(ME) 5 Philip Tng and Senior Band Major (SBM), ME3 Abdul Razak. The SAF Band Training Wing is led by the band's Chief Instructor ME4 Jax Ang, who is also concurrently appointed Director of Music, SAF Ceremonial Band C. The Wing Sergeant Major is ME2 Cecilia Yap, and its instructor is ME1 Dax Liang.

SAF Central Band[edit]

The Singapore Armed Forces Central Band is the premier band of the Singapore Armed Forces, and consists of a core of professional regular musicians, supplemented by Full-time National Servicemen (NSF) fulfilling their conscript duties. The Central Band is made up of members of the former Republic of Singapore Navy Band and performs as a concert band, a marching band as well as a ceremonial band. It is further able to perform in a variety of smaller configurations, of which include a brass quintet, a combo & stage band, ceremonial fanfare trumpeters and a clarinet quartet. The SAF Central Band is most often seen in the public eye at major parades like the National Day and SAF Day parades. On a more regular basis, the band stages three concerts a year as part of its In Harmony and Chamber Repertory series.

The SAF Central Band is led by Director of Music, ME5 Tan Aik Kee Ken, Steven and Senior Director of Music, ME5 Philip Tng. Its Band Major (BM) is ME3 Ong Wee Hong. The Band was formerly called the 2 Singapore IB Band and later renamed the Republic of Singapore Navy Band before the 1994 merger.

SAF Ceremonial Bands[edit]

Fully made up of Full-time National Servicemen (NSF), the three ceremonial bands co-share official military duties and parades. These include the monthly Istana Changing of the Guards Ceremony, Specialist Cadet School (SCS) Graduation Parade, Officer Cadet School (OCS) Commissioning Parades, Guard of Honour (GOH) Parades for visiting dignitaries and other internal SAF ceremonies.

SAF Ceremonial Band A[edit]

The SAF Ceremonial Band A was formerly known as the Singapore Infantry Regiment (SIR) Band, the oldest of the five bands having been formed in 1958. With the restructuring of the bands in 1994, the SAF Ceremonial Band A evolved as one of the original two Parade bands of the Singapore Armed Forces.

  • Director of Music: ME4 Johnson Lee
  • Band Major: ME3 Hussin Hozairi
  • Assistant Band Major: ME2 Ng Kay Lim
  • Drum Major: ME2 Farhan

SAF Ceremonial Band B[edit]

Formerly the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Band, the band was subsequently renamed the second ceremonial band of the Singapore Armed Forces.

  • Acting Director of Music: ME3 Goh Poh Wah
  • Band Major: ME3 Radin Yusoff
  • Assistant Band Major: ME2 Tan Cheng Kim
  • Drum Major: ME1 Chua Keng Hwee, Jash

SAF Ceremonial Band C[edit]

The band was formed in 2009 as the third ceremonial band of the Singapore Armed Forces.

  • Director of Music: ME4 Jax Ang Soon Beng
  • Band Major: ME3 Maswan
  • Assistant Band Major: ME2 Ginny Tham
  • Drum Major: ME1 Shawn Poh

Key personnel[edit]

  • Senior Director of Music/Commanding Officer, Singapore Armed Forces Band: ME5 Philip Tng Liat Peng
  • Director of Music (Central Band) / SAF Band Manpower Officer: ME5 Steven Tan Aik Kee
  • Director of Music (Ceremonial Band A): ME4 Johnson Lee Kah Hee
  • Acting Director of Music (Ceremonial Band B): ME3 Goh Poh Wah
  • Director of Music (Ceremonial Band C): ME4 Jax Ang Soon Beng
  • Chief Instructor (Training Wing): ME4 Jax Ang Soon Beng
  • Senior Band Major (Regimental Sergeant Major Equivalent): ME3 Abdul Razak B M Noor

Ceremonies and parades[edit]

  • Change of Guards (COG) Ceremony: Together with the new guards from the SAF Military Police (MP) command, the band marches down Orchard Road to the Istana for the ceremony which involves a public performance by the Silent Precision Drill Squad (SPDS).
  • Presentation of Credentials (POC) Parade: Held in Istana to welcome Foreign Dignitaries
  • Guard of Honour (GOH) Parade: Held in Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) to welcome Foreign Dignitaries
  • Change of Command (COC) Parade: Held to commemorate the official transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from a commanding officer to another.
  • Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) Passing Out Parade: Held in Floating Platform @ Marina Bay
  • Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade (SCGP): Held in Pasir Laba Camp Leaders Square
  • Officer Cadet School (OCS) Passing Out Parade: Held in SAFTI Military Institute (MI)
  • Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day: Held in SAFTI MI, the main objective of this day is for the members of the armed forces to reaffirm their pledge of loyalty and dedication to the SAF and the nation.
  • National Day Parade (NDP): The band is actively involved in the annual event in commemoration of Singapore's independence since 1965.
  • Other Special Deployments: Military tattoos, Anniversary Parades, Trooping of Colours, Openings of Military Exercises, Military Funerals

SAF Ceremonial Music[edit]

  • Salutes
Title Event Composer / Arranger
President Fanfare President Salute Tonni Wei Shi Ren
PM Fanfare Prime Minister Salute Johnson Lee Kah Hee
Salute No.1 Head of State Salute Tonni Wei Shi Ren
Salute No.2 Prime Minister Salute Tonni Wei Shi Ren
Salute No.3 Minister Salute Peter Yan P. T.
Salute No.4 Chief of Defence Salute Ervin E. Dragon
Salute No.5 Service Chief Salute C. L. Seah
Salute No.6 Reviewing Officer Salute – Military Reviewing Officer of General rank including foreign Ambassadors Tonni Wei Shi Ren
Salute No.7 SAF Salute – Senior Military Officers of Colonel rank and below A. Abdullah Sumardi
NS 45 Salute Used in NDP 2012 to pay tribute to national servicemen of the past and present Johnson Lee Kah Hee
Advance in Review Order SAF Day Chua Siong Loo
  • Slow Marches
Title Event Composer / Arranger
Honour and Glory Various Parades Tonni Wei Shi Ren
Pride, Discipline and Honour SCGP, OCS Commissioning, SAF Day, NDP Johnson Lee Kah Hee
Standing Victorious SCGP, OCS Commissioning, SAF Day, NDP Tonni Wei Shi Ren
  • Quick Marches
Title Unit Composer / Arranger
Tentera Singapura Singapore Armed Forces A. Abdullah Sumardi
Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) March Singapore Air Force Ervin E Dragon
Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) March Singapore Navy Alan Teo
Singapore Infantry Regiment (SIR) March Singapore Army F. W. Roy
Marching with Pride Tri-Service Erwin E. Dragon
Upwards and Onwards Singapore Navy Arranged by Peter Yan P. T.; Edited by Muhamad Yusri
Bandstand SAF Band Tonni Wei Shi Ren
Bergerak SAF Combat Engineers A. Abdullah Sumardi
Berjuang SAF Signals -
Guard of Honour March GOH Contingents Tonni Wei Shi Ren
Pride of Our Nation Arranged by Tonni Wei Shi Ren; Edited by Philip Tng Liat Peng
Spot On SAF Silent Precision Drill Squad Ervin E. Dragon
The Commandos SAF Commando Formation A. Abdullah Sumardi; Arranged and Edited by Johnson Lee Kah Hee
The Logisticians SAF Logistics -
We are One Singapore Infantry Music and Lyrics by Yeo Kai Loon; Arranged by Tan Aik Kee
We are One Singapore Infantry Music and Lyrics by Yeo Kai Loon; Arranged by Tonni Wei Shi Ren; Edited by Philip Tng Liat Peng
We are One 128 Singapore Infantry Music and Lyrics by Yeo Kai Loon; Arranged by Johnson Lee Kah Hee
We are Ready National Cadet Corps Arranged by Tonni Wei Shi Ren
  • Ceremonial Music
Title Event Composer / Arranger
Majulah Singapura SCGP POP, OCS Commissioning, SAF Day, NDP Music by Zubir Said; Arranged by Phoon Yew Tien; Transcribed by Philip Tng Liat Peng
A Nation's March NDP 2012 Syawal Kassim
A Triumphant Spirit Syawal Kassim
For The People for the Nation Various Parades Johnson Lee Kah Hee
March of the Blue Berets Various Parades Johnson Lee Kah Hee
Munneru Valiba OCS Commissioning Traditional
Negara Kita OCS Commissioning C. L. Seah
Officer of The Day COG Ceremony R.B. Hall; Arranged by Norman Richardson
One in Unity NDP 2013 Johnson Lee Kah Hee, Joshua Low
Our Country Our Home NDP 2014 Johnson Lee Kah Hee, Joshua Low
Point of War Traditional
Reach Out for the Skies Various Parades Johnson Lee Kah Hee
Salute to the Nation NDP 1994, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2011 -
To Mount with Loyalty Various Parades Tan Aik Kee
Training To Be Soldiers BMTC POP Arranged by Sin Jin How
Trust Me Singapore OCS Commissioning Ervin E. Dragon
Untuk Rakyat Dan Negara Arranged by C. L. Seah
We Are Singapore Tan Aik Kee
We The People of Singapore / Our Homeland NDP 2010 Johnson Lee Kah Hee
Will You? Various Parades Music and Lyrics by Jimmy Ye; Johnson Lee Kah Hee
Dead March from Saul Military Funerals George Frideric Handel; Arranged by J. Hartmann
  • SAF Songs
Title Event Composer / Arranger
APGCians Marching On Air Power Generation Command (APGC) Lyrics by MAJ Chan Chin Ann; ME4 Johnson Lee Kah Hee
Officer Cadet School Song Officer Cadet School Arranged by Tan Yan Zhang
Sons of The Sea Republic of Singapore Navy -
The Medics of The Field SAF Medical Corps Lyrics by Dr Cheong San Than; Dr Koh Eng Kheng
With Pride We Lead Specialist Cadet School Johnson Lee Kah Hee

External links[edit]