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APAF Singapore, 9-12 August 2019

Students of School of Music and Art returned from APAF 2019 competition in Singapore with 2 gold and 4 silver awards!  Choeung William won gold, Zhuang Zhi Yi, Ung Jennifer, Rethpisey Tepisak all won silver. They all study piano with prof. Jessica Chen Shih- Jie. Our vocal students Son Sokhon won gold and Lim Oudom won silver. They study with prof. Aldwin Ace Zapa. Congratulations! And big thanks to our teachers Jessica and Ace for hard and dedicated work with the students!


2019 APAF competition was held in beautiful Victoria theatre and concert hall in Singapore. Hall was built between 1902 and 1905 in honor of Queen Victoria.

There were over 230 participants from China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. Competitors displayed great technical competence and musical sensitivities. Particularly piano competition was very tied as the majority of the competitors were pianist. Once again it was proven that piano is most popular instrument to study in Asia. Sadly, we miss more guitar, bass, string, brass, woodwind and any other instrument students from SE Asian countries.


Absolute winner was 13-14-year-old Indonesian girl Yocelyn, who played a Festival del ritmo, a advanced-master level song by Dave Weckl. Congratulation! Encouraging to see young students showing interest in jazz music.


Music competitions why? “Competitions are for horses, not artists.”  said Bela Bartók, and was he right?  It seems inherently absurd to attempt to rank artistic performances accurately enough to sort them into neat lists: winner, runner-up, and so on – down to but not ending with the differentiation between, say, finalists nos. 6 and 7. Not that the latter makes much difference, since any direct benefits from a music competition in the form of money, concert engagements and sometimes recording contracts mainly go to the winners of the highest prizes.  The very concept of a precise judging of performances in music competitions is delusional at best, especially when the results of the judging are processed using an exact but inappropriate system such as numeric point scores. To have a diverse group of jurors, each of them with very different backgrounds, tastes and personalities.

How likely is it that the outcome actually reflects the true qualities of all the young musicians? Artistic performance simply is not quantifiable in this way.


On the other hand, it is good because competitions build mental toughness and prepare musicians for the competitive reality they are heading towards. Students can develop not only their musical skills, but psychosocial characteristics like leadership, self-discipline, confidence, and teamwork that will prepare them for success in life. It is good to travel to new countries, cities, meet students from all other the world, learn to respect other cultures.


The one-sentence summary: “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and non-learners.”  ~Benjamin Barber (author and renowned political theorist)

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