Touted as one of the most promising musicians of his generation by The Straits Time (Singapore), Derek Koh has grown rapidly to become one of the most highly sought-after percussionists in Singapore due to his comforts in both Western and Chinese repertoire. Derek has been part of award-winning Chinese Chamber Ensemble Ding Yi Music Company since 2010, and appears regularly as a freelance percussionist with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Derek has been invited as guest percussionist for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, guest timpanist for the Szechuan Symphony Orchestra, and has also appeared alongside musicians from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. In 2016, he was selected to be in the inaugural Musician Fellowship program started by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, where he worked with the orchestra for half of its season. Derek has also won fellowship positions in the Grammy-award winning Oprheus Chamber Orchestra (New York), Aspen Music Festival (Aspen, Colorado), Miami Music Festival (Miami, Florida), and PRISMA Festival, (British Columbia).
Derek has held two sold-out recitals at the Esplanade Recital Studio and has appeared as soloist with the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Orchestra, The Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore and also Ding Yi Music Company. As an educator, he has lectured at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), School of the Arts, Singapore and held several Esplanade Bitesize workshops. Most recently, he held a snare drum workshop hosted by Percussion Works, Singapore and will be sharing more as a clinician in the upcoming Singapore Percussion Ensemble Festival hosted by the Singapore Wind Symphony Percussion Ensemble.
Before pursuing percussion as his major, Derek was a multi-award winning yangqin (Chinese Dulcimer) musician, studying under Wei Yan Ming. He won awards in all yangqin solo categories (Junior, Youth and Open) at the National Chinese Music Competition organized by the National Arts Council (Singapore), Gold at the International Competition of Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments held in San Francisco, Silver at the 28th Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, and was unanimously voted Best Accompanist winner in the NAFA Music Essentials Concerto Competition 2012 by the panel. Most recently, he recorded music for the yangqin by Julian Wong for Actor, Forty, a theatre production by The Necessary Stage featuring Golden Horse Award-Winner Yeo Yann Yann.
A graduate of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) School of Young Talents where he was scouted at the age of 5, he continued his undergraduate studies at the institution where he received his Bachelor of Music (First Class Honours) conferred by the Royal College of Music (RCM) under the tutelage of Mark Suter and Christian Schiøler. During his tenure at RCM, he studied percussion with David Hockings, Sam Walton and jazz vibraphone with Anthony Kerr. Derek most recently received his Master’s degree at Mannes School of Music under the support of the prestigious Mannes Dean’s Scholarship, studying under Maya Gunji, Joseph Tompkins, and Michael Werner.
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