B i o g r a p h y
Organist and composer Phoon Yu is active both in Singapore and in the United States. In Singapore, he has performed as a soloist multiple times in the Victoria Concert Hall Organ Series since 2015, as well as at St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay. Previous solo recital appearances in the US include those at St. Thomas’s Church at Fifth Avenue, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, St. David’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore, and Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, NY. His début album, SEVEN – Organ Music of Singapore, featuring the solo works of up-and-coming Singaporean composers, was released by Centaur Records in April 2022. In November of that same year, Phoon Yu performed alongside his co-composer Jonathan Shin with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony Chorus, the Singapore Symphony Youth Choir, and the Singapore Symphony Children’s Choir for the premiere of Illuminations – Symphony for Organ, Chorus, and Orchestra, which had been commissioned for the 20th anniversary of the Esplanade.
Phoon Yu’s performance career as an organist is supplemented by his composing and arranging ability. Composition premieres of his include works for various solo instruments and chamber groups across various venues in Singapore, China, and the United States. Notable premieres include his solo piano piece Prelude (Chorale Prelude on ‘Singapura, Oh Singapura’) (2013), his chamber work Elegy for Violin, Piano and String Quartet (2014), his Sonatina for Dizi Quintet (2016) for the Dicapella Dizi Ensemble, his Piece for Organ and Trumpet (2017), and his Prelude and Fugue on Wynne’s Theme for solo organ (2017), while notable arrangements include his arrangements of Munnaeru Vaaliba and Home (2015) for the inaugural gala concert of the group ‘Singapore Sounds’, his medley for about two hundred violinists for World Strings Day organised by Tong Ming Xi Gallery, as well as four pieces for Spot Pocket Opera Theatre’s The Silent Front project (2020). His Three Organ Anthems were released by Muziksea, a Southeast Asian publisher specialising in choral music, in 2020.
Phoon Yu was previously a C. V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at the Juilliard School, pursing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance under the tutelage of Paul Jacobs. For his dissertation on Handel and Porpora’s settings of Siroe, re di Persia in connection to Jacobitism, Phoon Yu was awarded the Richard F. French Doctoral Prize. Previously, he did his Bachelors of Music in music composition at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music under full scholarship, participating during his undergraduate studies in the partnership between the Conservatory and the Peabody Institute in their Joint Degree Programme. He then did his Masters of Music in organ performance at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, being awarded the Bruce R. Eicher prize at the conclusion of his studies. His other teachers included Professor Donald Sutherland and Dr. Evelyn Lim for organ, and Associate Professor Ho Chee Kong and Dr. Oscar Bettison for composition.
(Updated: 12 December 2022)