Kenneth Tay (b. 1992) is an accomplished Singaporean composer and doctoral candidate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in partnership with the University of St Andrews, and with the generous support of the RCS Trust and Tan Kah Kee Foundation. Under the supervision of Oliver Searle and Stuart MacRae, his ongoing research and musical interest is in the writing of sacred music through the syncretisation of the Western Judeo-Christian tradition with Asian spirituality. His compositions, self-published and with Muziksea, have been performed in Singapore and internationally by prominent ensembles including the Victoria Chorale, SYC Ensemble Singers, One Chamber Choir, EVOKX, Singapore Symphony Choruses, Voices of Singapore, Choir of King’s College Aberdeen, and University of Glasgow Chapel Choir.
After his completing his first degree in political science from the National University of Singapore, he earned his MMus with Distinction at the University of Aberdeen, with a concentration in composition and choral music under the tutelage of Phillip Cooke and Paul Mealor. A recipient of the prestigious Carlaw-Ogston Master of Music Scholarship, his music has garnered acclaim from reviewers, who have described it as “exciting and refreshing” (Alan Cooper), and “original and harmonically engaging” (The Flying Inkpot).
As a chorister, Kenneth has performed and toured extensively with numerous award-winning ensembles: the Victoria Junior College Choir, National University of Singapore Choir, Victoria Chorale, Voices of Singapore, Anglican Chamber Ensemble, Choir of King’s College Aberdeen, Chroma, Symphonia Choralis, Renaissance Singers, and deputises in many others. He has been featured as bass-baritone soloist in many choral competitions, winning gold medals with his choirs in the Festa Musicale (Czech Republic), Venezia in Musica (Italy), and World Choir Games (Latvia).
Kenneth is the founder and artistic director of the vocal ensemble, Basement Bunch, with a focus on the a cappella choral repertory across a wide variety of Western and Asian languages. He is presently based in Glasgow for his studies, where he is also Cantoris Bass in the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir, and conductor of the University of Glasgow Medics Music Society.
- Contemporary Choral Composition
- Sacred Music
- Collective Flow Experiences in Ensemble Musicians
- Music in Social Movements and Collective Action
Recent commissions and performances:
- Victoria Chorale (Nelson Kwei) – 偶雨 (2022), Flowers of the Forest (2017)
- The NUS Choir (Nelson Kwei) – Ave Regina Caelorum (2022)
- EVOKX (Terrence Toh) – Cherryblossom Elegy (2022), Isle of Mist (2019)
- Voices of Singapore (Darius Lim) – My Spirit Sang All Day (2022)
- One Chamber Choir (Lim Ai Hooi) – To See a World (2022)
- Anglican Chamber Ensemble (Margaret Chen) – Bright Stars (2021), Rorate Coeli (2018)
- Renaissance Singers (Toh Ban Sheng) – Love Came Down at Christmas (2021)
- Basement Bunch – The Angels Came From Heaven High (2021)
- SYC Ensemble Singers (Jennifer Tham) – Uwu (2019)
- Choir of King’s College, Aberdeen (John Frederick Hudson) – Jubilate Deo (2018)
- University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir (Paul Mealor) – Flame (2018)
Teaching and Choral Conducting:
- Adjunct Lecturer in Composition, Singapore Bible College (2021-present)
- Artistic Director, Basement Bunch (2020-present)
- Assistant Conductor, Victoria Chorale (2017-22)
- Visiting Lecturer, Yale-NUS College (2018-19)
- Awarded grant by National Arts Council for Composing Monumentality, focusing on a cantata by pioneer Singapore composer Phoon Yew Tien (2021-22)
- Researcher to Ministry of Education to support policy review of Singapore Youth Festival Music Performances (2020)
- Research Assistant to Assoc. Prof Leonard Tan, studying collective flow in music contexts (2018-19)
Publications, Conferences and Presentations:
- Tay, Kenneth, Leonard Tan, and Wilson Goh. "A PRISMA review of collective flow experiences in music contexts." Psychology of Music 49, no. 3 (2021): 667-683.
- Kepaduan Suara Podcast Episode 3: What does Singaporean Choral Music sound like?
- Methodist School of Music Worship Symposium, 2021
- Choral Directors’ Association (Singapore) E-teaching Strategies Conference, 2020
- Asian Choral Association
- Choral Directors' Association (Singapore)
- Composers' Society of Singapore
MMus, University of Aberdeen
Composition and Choral Music2017 - 2018
BSc, National University of Singapore
Political Science2013 - 2017