Lynnette Seah

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Lynnette Seah
Birth nameSeah Mei Tsing
(Chinese: 佘美幸; pinyin: Shé Měixìng)
Born1957 (age 63–64)
Occupation(s)violinist, concertmistress

Lynnette Seah Mei Tsing (Chinese: 佘美幸; pinyin: Shé Měixìng) is an internationally acclaimed Singaporean violinist serving as co-leader of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) as the only musician to have performed full-time with the SSO since 1979[1] – a position she is holding on at the Symphony together with Alexander Souptel.[2] She is also a recipient of the Cultural Medallion for Music in 2006 and has performed for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan.[3]


Seah began her formal music training on the piano with her mother Lau Biau Chin, when she was five. She started the violin at the age of six with Goh Soon Tioe and later professional violin teacher in Singapore, Alphonso Anthony.[4] At the age of 21 she began her career as a music teacher with the Yamaha music school teaching piano and violin to children. She found little fulfilment working as a music teacher, as she was well-aware that she is more of a performer than a teacher. When the Singapore Symphony Orchestra was set up in 1979, she applied for a position with the group and came through as a full-time performer – the only full-time staff of the arts group. Two days before the inaugural concert, the Musical Director Choo Hoey approached her to be the concertmaster of the upcoming performance, leading the first violin section and taking charge of the technical aspects of the orchestra's music making for SSO's first concert.[2]

Seah won scholarships that included one to the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan USA when she was twelve. She was also awarded the Outstanding Young Musicians Award for being the youngest member of the World Youth Orchestra. When she was 15, Seah was appointed as Associate Concertmaster of the Bishop Symphony Orchestra at the International Music Camp in Adelaide, Australia. That same year she represented Singapore in the Southeast Asian Violin Competition, and won a scholarship to study at the Hannover Hochschule for Music in Germany. Renowned violin teachers she had worked with included David Mankowitz of Toronto, Prof. Friedrich von Hausegger of Hannover, Prof. Karel Sneberger of Prague, Yfrah Neaman of London and Dorothy DeLay of New York.

As a soloist, Seah has performed with famous orchestras around the world. Among them are [Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra], [Gstaad Menuhin Festival Orchestra], Orebro Chamber Orchestra, Teplice Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Zurich Symphony Orchestra, just to name a few. Seah has also played in many festivals, which include the [Bergen International Festival], Singapore Arts Festival and the [Swiss Festival]. Seah has worked with numerous conductors, which include Enrique Batiz, Okko Kamu, Lan Shui, Heiichiro Ohyama, Jan Schultsz and Samuel Wong.

Having a wide range of repertoire, Seah has performed almost every concerto in the standard repertoire. Other than that, she enjoys performing contemporary works like Bernard Tan's Violin Concerto, Chen Gang and He Zhanhao's Violin Concerto "The Butterfly Lovers" or Alfred Schnittke's Moz-Art à la Haydn. She is the first Singapore violinist to have a concerto specially written for her. This Violin Concerto, composed by Singaporean composer Bernard Tan in 2005, was premiered on 7 January 2006 at Singapore's Esplanade Concert Hall by Seah herself with the world-class Singapore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the acclaimed young Chinese-American conductor Lan Shui. The concerto received warm welcome by the Singaporean audience and is considered a great success by both the composer and the soloist.

Also an active recitalist, Seah has given solo recitals around the world. Seah is also active in the chamber music scene. She is the leader and founder of the Jade String Quartet,[5] one of the few professional chamber music groups in Singapore.

In April 1996, Seah was invited to represent Singapore in the World Philharmonic Orchestra at Bangkok, Thailand, for the King's 50th Anniversary of his ascension under the baton of Maestro Myung-Whun Chung. She was appointed as assistant concertmaster then. In June 2006, Seah once again represented Singapore as assistant concertmaster in the World Philharmonic Orchestra at Paris, France. Other than being concertmaster of the World Philharmonic Orchestra, Seah has appeared regularly as guest concertmaster with leading orchestras around Asia.

Seah is a founding member of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and is one of the two remaining pioneer musicians who have witnessed the growth of the orchestra since its inception in 1979. Seah is widely recognised by her colleagues for her professionalism and musicality. She is also looked upon as a mentor and role model.

Seah (center) with fans after a concert, January 2006.

Other than being a soloist or a concertmaster, Seah is also a member of the Advisory Committee for the "Violin Loan Scheme", a scheme by the Singapore National Arts Council. Seah has a great passion in music education. She has shared her experience generously with young talents by giving masterclasses in conservatories or music institutions regularly. She is a member of the Singapore's Education Ministry's Arts Education Committee, which oversees various arts institutions such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and the LASALLE College of the Arts.

In 1997, the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore conferred on Seah the Excellence Award in recognition of her contribution to Singapore's classical music scene. In 2006, Seah was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Music of 2006, which is the highest award for arts in Singapore.

Seah has appeared as guest on both TV and radio programmes. Singapore's Mediacorp Channel News Asia has made a documentary on Seah's musical life, entitled Inspir' Asia. This documentary is regularly broadcast on TV throughout Asia.

Seah plays on a Giovanni Battista Gabrielli's violin made in 1750.

Highlights of Seah's 06/07 season include appearance with Asian orchestras, such as the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Other than her regular concerto performance, Seah will be performing with her Jade String Quartet again this season. Solo recitals and masterclasses are scheduled too.

A single mother, Seah has two sons, Maurice and Andre.

The Cultural Medallion[edit]

"This is a big milestone for classical musicians like myself, who've actually been training and dedicating and sacrificing my entire life, since childhood, towards this classical art form. I hope with this award, there'll be more awareness of classical music." —Lynnette Seah

Seah was informed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's management that they will nominate her for the Cultural Medallion in January 2006. She didn't know then that she will be receiving this prestigious award. In June, while having lunch with her Malaysian student and his parents in Kuala Lumpur,[6] she received a phone call by her SSO's general manager, Mr Chng Kai Jin, and was informed that she is the recipient of the Cultural Medallion for Music of 2006. Then, on 20 October, she received the award from Singapore's President S R Nathan at the Istana. She performed Bach's Partita No.3 and Elgar's Salut d'Amour during the award ceremony.

Seah intends to apply for the Cultural Medallion Grant, which is then $80,000, to develop young talents and promote the love and art of playing classical music. "The Arts Grant is going to be very important to me because it gives me the platform to launch into the next phase of my artistic growth, which is to give back to the young," she says. She expresses that she would like to see more young talents develop in the right direction by helping them to cultivate their love for playing music. "I'd like to sponsor, give them master classes, to make sure that they have the right technique or being fed the right development from the technique as well as musicality," she adds.


  1. ^ Yap, Stephanie (22 January 2009). "Classic act". Straits Times Life!. p. 3.
  2. ^ a b Yap, Stephanie (19 January 2009). "Take a bow". Straits Times.
  3. ^ Chow, Clara (21 October 2006). "SSO co-leader, versatile artist get highest award for the arts". The Straits Times.
  4. ^ "Lynnette Seah wins Cultural Medallion, Singapore's highest accolade in the arts" (PDF). Bravissimo!. Singapore Symphony Orchestra. 8 (1). January 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  5. ^ "SSO 30th Anniversary Concert" (PDF).
  6. ^ "The Great Artists". The Living Room. 23 October 2006. Mediacorp. 938LIVE!.

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