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Zechariah Goh Toh Chai

January 19th, 2001

Zechariah studied piano under Ong Lip Tat, harmony from Phoon Yew Tien and counterpoint from Leong Yoon Pin while working on his Diploma of Music from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. In addition to receiving the Hiebert and Gunda Scholarship award to work on his Master of Piano from the University of Kansas, Zechariah was also appointed a graduate assistant by the university to teach undergraduate music theory. He worked on his Doctoral degree in Composition under the guidance of Dr. Charles Hoag, as well as orchestration and arrangement for band under James Barnes. Zechariah was awarded the prestigious Anthony Cius Prize for outstanding student composer from the University of Kansas for the Academic year of 2001-2002. That was the second time he has been awarded the Cius prize.

Before embarking on his studies in the United States, he was a familiar face in the local music scene, teaching bands and choirs in Singapore. He has been appointed as lecturer in composition, orchestration, aural and sight-singing and keyboard harmony since July 2002 at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

As a composer, he has been commissioned to write music for symphonic band and choir. Some of his prize-winning compositions include ‘Burong Kakak Tua’, commissioned by the Victoria Chorale in 1992, ‘Dayong Sampan’, commissioned by the Temasek Junior College choir in 1993 and ‘Reminiscences of Hai Nan’, commissioned by the Tampines Junior college choir in 1995. The Victoria Chorale chose this piece, ‘Reminiscences of Hai Nan’, when they participated in the Llangollen International Musical Eistedfod, which was held in Wales in 1996. In addition, the Victoria Junior College Choir commissioned two works ‘Luo Shui Tian’ and ‘Kucinta’ for the SYF Choral Competition in 1997.

In June 1998,Victoria Chorale sang three of his compositions in the prestigious Musica Mundi held in Pohlheim, Germany. In May 1999, Zechariah’s Choral work, ‘Counting Frogs’, commissioned by the Victoria Junior College choir, received its world premiere in Germany. ‘Remembering Nanjing 1937′, a piece commissioned by the Victoria Chorale, was written especially for the Choral Olympic Competition held in Austria 2001. ‘Guessing Song’, commissioned by the Tanjong Katong Girls ‘School Choir, received its world premiere in Athens, Greece in November 2000. The choir who sang ‘Guessing Song’ was also awarded first prize in the recent Singapore youth festival choral competition, 2001. ‘Dona Nobis Pace’, written for the University of Kansas Chamber Choir received its first performance in Brazil, 2001. The Victoria Junior College Symphonic Band under the baton of Zechariah himself performed ‘Elegy for a Rose’ (a tribute to the late Mother Teresa) and ’1 177155 4 (I miss U)’.

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