May 18, 2019
Speech by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education, at the Lion City Youth Jazz Festival, at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
Patron of the Jazz Association (Singapore) Professor Tommy Koh
Honorary Chairman Mr. Albert Chiu
Chairman Dr. Edmund Lam
JASS Directors, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentleman,
1. I would just like to say two broad things. The first thing I want to do is to talk about Jeremy Monteiro, who invited me here.
2. Jeremy Monteiro is the ‘King of Swing’ of Singapore – he has done so much for the Jazz scene here and really put Singapore on the world map of Jazz. I believe in Southeast Asia, he is still the only Jazz musician to have released an album with Verve. Internationally, he has played with Jazz greats – James Moody, Bobby McFerrin and others. He has really done very well for Singapore, but the most important thing that we need to recognise, is that he has brought Jazz to all corners of Singapore, into the community, by setting up the Association and this festival, and letting more Singaporeans enjoy Jazz.
3. The second thing I want to do is a small announcement that some of you may not know yet. We have included Jazz in the O-Level Music Syllabus. Students will learn many genres. Other than Jazz, they will get to learn the Western Classical, Asian Music and Popular Music. And now, they even have Music for Multimedia. Within Jazz, students will learn to appreciate sub-genres such as Traditional Jazz, Swing, Bebop and Cool Jazz. They will learn about the music and the musicians, such as Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck and Jeremy Monteiro.
4. That will be our approach across all Arts subjects. In Literature, we don’t just study Shakespeare. We learn about Haresh Sharma. In Art, we don’t just learn about Leonardo and Monet. We also learn about Liu Kang and Georgette Chen. We will feature local art forms in our syllabus now. I think it is a coming of age of Singapore – both understanding ourselves, as well as our own art forms – and I think that is the right way to go.