Making it big overseas

Making it big overseas
Singaporean violinist Jonathan Ong (left) who is part of the Wasmuth Quartet which has swept major awards since its formation in January 2013.

Two Singaporeans who are relative unknowns back home have been making the news recently.

Tokyo-based Singaporean photographer ND Chow returned home to launch his first solo photography exhibition at Objectifs on May 15. He left the country 14 years ago to pursue a career as a commercial portrait photographer in Japan.

Meanwhile, up-and-coming violionist Jonathan Ong, with his quartet, the Wasmuth Quartet, has been sweeping awards at major music competitions in the United States and Japan.

Enjoying every minute

Singaporean violinist Jonathan Ong, 27, does not aim to be remembered as a world-famous violinist.

"The people that I respect the most and remember most fondly are not just great musicians, but also great people," he says. "So I want to be remembered as someone who is not just good in music, but also generous in spirit and kind."

Humble words from one who is enjoying a string of successes as a member of the Wasmuth (pronounced as "vas-moot") Quartet, the graduate string quartet-inresidence at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music.

Since its formation in January last year, the quartet has swept awards at major competitions in America and Japan, including the Grand Prize at the 68th Coleman Chamber Music Competition, one of the biggest competitions in the United States, in April and, most recently, the Bronze Medal at the 8th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition last month.

A founding member of the quartet, Ong, who started learning to play the violin at the age of seven, says the members started playing together for a course in chamber music for string quartets at Indiana University and hit it off.

"They say a quartet is kind of like a marriage between four people - you have to learn to be open to one another's ideas and flexible. Thankfully, everyone in the quartet is easy to work with," Ong says with a laugh during a recent visit here.

Comprising violinist Brendan Shea, 27, violist Abigail Rojansky, 25, cellist Warren Hagerty, 22, and Ong, the quartet has been described by the online classical music site Cleveland Classical as "thoughtful, impressive musicians".

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