MEMBERS OF THE JURY
Chairman of the Jury
Marlon Chen is considered one of the most versatile and dynamic conductors of his generation, he is equally at home conducting opera, ballet, and the symphonic repertoire. Since 2004, he has been music director of the Maggini Ensemble, one of the most exciting Chamber Orchestras on the classical scene. An assistant conductor of the Orchestre de Paris since 2010, he is frequently guest conducting in Europe and in the Americas. From 2002-2009, he was music director of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, past positions include conductor of the University of Incarnate Word and staff conductor at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. He has made guest appearances with many of the world’s finest orchestras such as Opera National de Lorrine, Orchestre de Paris, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, National Orchestre d’ile de France, MAV orchestra of Hungary, Orquestra Sinfonica de Xalapa, English School of Opera Festival Orchestra in London, Cadaques Orchestra, Bulgarian State Opera, Festival Orchestra de Sofia, Moldova Chamber Orchestra, Silesian Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony, and the San Antonio Symphony.
While he was with the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, he was involved with two international tours and was the longest tenured conductor in the history of the organization. With innovative and creative programming he has led the Maggini Ensemble consistently to sold out performances where the Houston Chronicle once praised him for his eloquent gestures and remaking “..the performance was beautiful!” With Maggini, the ensemble was a star feature with the Uniquely Houston Series at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and was instrumental in providing out-reach concerts to thousands of students in the Houston area.
A champion of new music, he has given more than 50 premiers and helped in the commissioning of many works for up and coming composers. As a composer/arranger he has often performed his own works with the major orchestras he has conducted. Mr. Chen is a National Presser Foundation recipient, and in 2007 he received a generous grant from the Institute of Hispanic Culture Award in Houston to research and orchestrate the music of the Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Currently based in Paris, France, Mr. Chen is frequently guest conducting and working on personal compositional projects.
A much sought after piano collaborator, chamber musician, repetituer and soloist, Najib Ismail obtained his BM in piano performance at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines. He then went for further studies at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts where he finished his Professional Diploma in Opera repetituer and vocal accompaniment.
He has been a featured soloist of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under conductors Julian Quirit, Jean Sebastian Bereau and Eugene Castillo, and the UST Symphony Orchestra under guest conductor Richard Pontzious and resident conductor Herminigildo Ranera.
He has served as pianist for Dame Joan Sutherland's masterclasses in Brisbane, Australia and has played solo, lieder and chamber music concerts in Hong Kong, China, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Russia.
His most recent performances include Schubert's "Die Schöne Müllerin" with Philippine tenor Arthur Espiritu, and "Winterreise" with Korean baritone Park Byong In (August and October 2016), as well as a much admired recital with Korean diva Sumi Jo and Romanian diva Nelly Miriciou in February and March of this year.
Najib is currently Associate Professor at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music in the Philippines.
Jeffrey R. Solares
Jeffrey Solares is one of of the most active figure in promoting classical music in the Philippines in his varied role as violinist, conductor, educator, music arranger, concert host and builder of orchestras.
His formal training in music started when he was accepted as a scholar in the Philippine High School for the Arts, a special school for young artists based in Mount Makiling, Laguna, where he graduated in 1990 as Valedictorian. He pursued a Bachelor of Music degree at the St. Scholastica’s College under Prof. Basilio Manalo and Prof. Arturo Molina. Upon graduation he was asked to go to Cebu to help establish and develop the Cebu Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Peace Philharmonic Philippines Chamber Players.
In 2005 he returned to Manila and for a time was the Resident Conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra(PPO) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He then joined the string faculty of the University of Santo Tomas, St. Scholastica’s College and the Philippine High School for the Arts.
At present he is the Executive Director and Associate Conductor of the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO), one of the oldest orchestras established in Asia. His major responsibility is to develop a network of support for this orchestra and help it reach higher levels of artistic excellence and audience reach through its annual MSO Gala Concert Series in major concert venues in Metro Manila and the MSO Rush Hour Concerts at Ayala Museum.
In 2014 he helped establish the MSO Music Academy and started its youth orchestra project, the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO). He trains the violin teachers for the MSO Music Academy and he has also helped establish various orchestra programs Tacloban, Naga, Lipa and in Cagayan de Oro City. He continues to pursue formal training in the Suzuki Method, a specialized approach to teaching music for young children.
In July this year he is set to embark on a European Concert Tour as conductor of the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO), where they are set to perform in major concert venues in Salzburg, Vienna, Prague and Munich as part of the 11th Summa Cum Laude Music Festival.
Well known as a recitalist and orchestra soloist, Jeong Ae-Ree’s performances have been critically acclaimed by The Straits Times, which described her as a “dynamo with an intimacy and flexibility of tone, coupled with loads of personality”.
Upon obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Music Performance, Ae-Ree then furthered her studies in opera in Graz, Austria. She has enjoyed considerable success as a performer and singing teacher since arriving Singapore in 1997. Her students’ have gained numerous international achievements and even furthering their studies at prestigious music schools. Many of them are also winners of international competitions.
Ae-Ree is currently the Artistic Director and CEO of New Opera Singapore, a company she founded in 2011. New Opera Singapore aims to reshape the face of opera as well as fostering greater appreciation to make a difference to the art form in Singapore.
Under her guidance, New Opera Singapore is now a recipient of the National Arts Council’s Major Grant that led the company to produce highly successful productions such as L’elisir d’amore, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Opera Comique series, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld etc and the most upcoming performance, Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea to be held at Victoria Theatre on the 29th and 30th of July 2017 which Ae-Ree will be stage directing the event herself.
POH-LIN KOH is a virtuoso soloist who has performed across Canada, Europe and Asia. She was invited to perform at the formal state visits of President Nathan and Mr Lee Hsien Yang in Vancouver. Poh-Lin has also appeared as a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In Europe, she played solo recitals at numerous venues in Frankfurt, Kiel, Hamburg and Lübeck. As a sponsored artist with the German Goethe Institute and Yamaha Asia, Poh-Lin has performed several solo recitals in the Victoria Concert Hall, the Jubilee Hall, the Goethe Institute, the German Embassy, the Canadian High Commission and the Singapore Festival of The Arts Concerto Concert with the Prague Chamber Orchestra. Her musical abilities has led her to teach as a guest artist at the Oregon State University at Corvallis, The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, the Music department of the National Technical University of Singapore, LaSalle and at Yamaha Music School, Singapore and Malaysia.
Poh-Lin holds the Licentiate of the Royal School of Music in Piano Performance (LRSM), the Associate of Royal College of Music (UK) in Piano Performance (ARCM), a Kunstlerische Ausbildung degree from the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Hamburg and Lübeck, Germany. She was the recipient of a coveted four-year scholarship to pursue her studies at the Royal Schools of Music in England, a scholarship to study at the Hamburg Musik Hochschule in Germany, and a recipient of National Arts Council grant from Singapore, and a prize winner of the 1989 Rolex Asia Piano Competition. In Vancouver, Poh-Lin was a recipient of scholarships while she studied under the well-known pedagogue, Lee Kum Sing, and Ong Lip Tat in Singapore. She was also a winner of Piano and Chamber music competitions. In 2000, Poh-Lin was appointed as a Music Examiner with Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada. Shortly thereafter, she became a Senior Examiner. Her passion for music and performance has made her a dedicated and devoted teacher to her students, many of whom have won awards and top marks at competitions, festivals and examinations.
In 2016, Poh-Lin performed the Chopin Piano Concerto No.1 at the Arts House with a Chamber ensemble. The concert was well-received by the music scene in Singapore with a standing ovation.
Singaporean oboist Simon Lee counts as one of the nation's top young wind players, having won several significant awards and recognition at home and abroad in recent years. Simon graduated with a Bachelor of Music (Honours) Degree programme from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore, under the tutelage of Ms. Rachel Walker (Principal Oboe, Singapore Symphony Orchestra); and, during the course of his studies, was selected for the Student Exchange Programme at the prestigious Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne, where he studied with Jean-Louis Capezzali. In 2014 he won the 2nd Prize at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concerto Competition.
Among many of his accolades, Simon was Principal Oboist of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (with highlights including concert tours to the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in 2011 and to the Berlin Euro Classic Festival in 2012); as well as Principal Oboe of the Asian Youth Orchestra for their 25th anniversary tour throughout Asia, and an esteemed member of the inaugural YouTube Symphony Orchestra in 2011 - the only Singaporean to be thus selected. He is also a regular member of orchestras such as the Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra, the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, and the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra. Simon Lee has been appointed Principal Oboe of The Sichuan Orchestra of China, a position he undertakes with immediate effect.