Jacky Ng’s musical journey began at 13, when he learned the suona under the guidance of Singapore Chinese Orchestra musician Liu Jiang.
“I was inspired to explore the suona’s potential when I was in secondary school, after hearing many expressive performances,” Ng says of the double-reed traditional instrument. “It is special to me because it’s a very niche instrument – not many people want to play the suona, as it can be very loud and piercing, and difficult to master.”
With his mentor’s support, he joined the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra in 2012, and eventually became its principal suona and guan musician in 2017. His time with the youth orchestra allowed him to perform overseas in Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan, among other places.
Ng graduated in 2018 with a Diploma in Music Performance from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). During his studies, he was principal in the suona and woodwind section of the NAFA Chinese Orchestra. To date, his 2017 performance of the concerto 霸王别姬 (Farewell My Concubine) with the orchestra remains the hardest he has worked on.
“This piece has very contrasting sections, and requires very good equipment and control,” he recalls. “Looking back, sheer perseverance and motivation to present my best on stage helped me to understand the music better and improve my techniques along the way.”
In 2017, he clinched the second prize in the suona open category at the National Chinese Music Competition, organised by the National Arts Council.
Ng joined Ding Yi in 2019. “It’s an outstanding ensemble that I looked up to when I was a student,” he says.
He has performed with various arts groups such as Siong Leng Musical Association, Odyssey Dance Theatre, Cappella Martialis and the Reverberance. He is also a guest suona and guan musician with the SCO. He staged his debut concerto, Nostalgia, with the Cheng San Chinese Orchestra, which inspired his professional music career. Ng is also a CCA instructor and conducts private teaching.