2020 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT
After picking up the classical guitar at the age of 12, Ernest developed a strong passion for creating and sharing the joy of music through his co-curricular activities in the St Patrick's School Guitar Ensemble. He was a member of the ensemble when it received the school’s first ever Certificate of Distinction in the Singapore Youth Festival in 2013.
At the age of 17, Ernest enrolled in Singapore Polytechnic to pursue a Diploma in Music and Audio Technology. During his time at the polytechnic, Ernest discovered the genre of jazz and felt an immediate connection with the music due to its cultural history and the humanity inherent in the genre. American jazz guitarists Peter Bernstein and Bobby Broom were two of the biggest influences in Ernest’s development as a guitarist. Bernstein’s ability to tell a story with the complexity of his melodies captivated Ernest and brought him closer to jazz, while Broom’s raw and soulful lyricism resonated with Ernest.
Upon his graduation, as an alumnus of the Singapore Polytechnic Jazz Band, Ernest was placed under the mentorship and guidance of industry veteran, pianist-bassist-composer-producer Joshua Wan. With the latter’s guidance, Ernest has since performed at numerous venues such as The Esplanade and Blu Jaz Cafe.
Ernest is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance at LASALLE College of the Arts. His long-term goal is to use jazz as a medium of expression to reflect our times and depict our struggles and celebrations in life.
2019 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
RIT XU KAI XIANG
Rit was raised in multi-cultural Singapore in a musical family. His late father was a professional musician who gave him a head start by exposing him to all genres of Western music, alongside traditional music influences from his mother. His love for jazz was sealed at age 16 when he heard the late great trumpeter Lee Morgan playing “Blue Train” on a famous John Coltrane album. Even though it was on the trumpet, Rit was determined to learn and play the music on his instrument of choice- the flute.
Rit Xu burst onto the Singapore jazz scene in 2011 after winning the Thailand International Jazz Solo Competition. An award-winning flutist, composer, educator and recording artist, he has been gaining international recognition for his lyrical, thoughtful and introspective musical voice on the flute since he won the National Flute Association (NFA) Jazz Artist Competition in 2014, making him the first Southeast Asian to win a solo jazz competition in the United States.
While Rit is an honours graduate in classical flute performance from the famed Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore, it is his keen focus on shaping improvised melodies drawing influence from notable trumpeters, saxophonists and practitioners of the jazz tradition, that makes him an instantly recognisable performer.
In recent years, he was prominently featured with the Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra at the annual Jazzaar Festival led by jazz stalwart Fritz K Renold. He also made his debut with the Asian Youth Jazz Orchestra’s inaugural performances in Southeast Asia. In addition, Rit is an integral sideman with jazz icon Jeremy Monteiro and a key member of the Lorong Boys, a classical-pop fusion group which shot to fame on social media with their humorous and light-hearted juxtaposition of classical music and top-40 hits.
Rit is also a first-call flutist in the studio recording scene, bringing with him a wealth of experience inside the recording booth laying down flute tracks to television commercials, films, video games, documentaries, and pop music albums since the age of nine. He played all the flute solos in the soundtrack of Taiwanese movie, “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” which won the 48th Golden Horse Award for best original film score.
With support from the JASS Scholarship programme, Rit is currently pursuing his Master's at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College NY.
BRYAN DE ROZARIO
At the tender age of nine, Bryan started his musical journey when he picked up the bass guitar, studying under Singaporean Bassist Din Safari.
Bryan was not a great bass player in the beginning, but it set the foundation for the rest of his journey. At the age of 13, he joined the St Patrick’s School Military Band and picked up the saxophone. It was during his time in the band that he realised the saxo- phone was the instrument for him.
Bryan ventured into jazz when he joined the Singapore Polytechnic Jazz Band. It was there that he met other passionate musicians, and through them, started his music career. He has since played for artists such as Tim De Cotta and T-Rex, a progressive metal band.
During his national service, he was part of the Singapore Armed Forces Band. It was also while serving the nation that Bryan auditioned and was selected to join the Jazz Association Youth Orchestra (JASSYO!) for the very first Lion City Youth Jazz Festival in 2017. There, he performed with other youth musicians alongside the legendary Benny Golson, and other distinguished musicians who served as mentors- Alex Sipiagin, Eijiro Nakagawa, Dave Newdick, Hong Chanutr Techatana-Nan and Tony Lakatos, and the festival’s Guest Music Director, Fritz K Renold.
Subsequently, Bryan was selected to be in the Mosaic Jazz Fellows (formerly Bright Young Things) jazz mentorship programme organised by the Esplanade Singapore, which helped him further hone his skills. He then had the opportunity to play with other esteemed professional musicians, including jazz alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, at the 2nd Lion City Youth Jazz Festival in May 2018. He went on to represent Singapore in London as a member of JASSYO! when the orchestra was invited to perform at the EFG London Jazz Festival in November 2018.
Bryan is currently studying at LASALLE College of the Arts, majoring in Jazz Performance.
2018 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
From the age of 13 when he first picked up the upright bass until now, bassist John Koh has shown a lot of promise with the success he has achieved in his music career. Internationally renowned and critically acclaimed jazz pianist Jeremy Monteiro mentioned John and said, "I feel the way Bill Evans must have felt when he met Scott Lafaro." John made his first appearance in a record "Wei III" led by his mentor and piano virtuoso, Weixang Tan.
John decided to pick up the upright bass when he heard Ray Brown on Oscar Peteson's album "We Get Requests." He soon joined his school orchestra and not long after was selected by blind audition to travel to Vienna to perform at the AMIS honor orchestra festival. Heavily inspired by the level of talent he was surrounded by while in Vienna, he continued to practise and was selected for every consecutive year to perform at the annual AMIS festivals.
Having a solid foundation in classical bass, John started to shift his attention to jazz. During that time, he lived in Japan where the jazz scene was vibrant, Being in the right place at the right time, he saw himself improving at an exponential rate.
During his mandatory national service in Singapore, John used his time off duty to attend jam sessions and build connections with the Singapore music scene. He quickly established himself as a first call bassist. John has worked alongside the likes of Benny Golson, Alex Sipiagin, Jeremy Monteiro, Hong Chanutr Techatana-nan, Tony Lakatos, Gabriel Hernandez, and many more.
He is currently studying at the Berklee College of Music under the mentorship of John Lockwood and Mike Pope.
Singaporean jazz vocalist and singer/songwriter Dawn Wong has come a long way since she debuted on Channel U's television talent search competition Project Superstar 2, performing at the Thailand International Jazz Festival 2018 in Chiang Rai (Thailand), the Singapore International Jazz Festival, and more.
Dawn hopes to develop her version of Singaporean jazz, inspired by her unique home that is at once a multi-cultural melting pot and global city. In 2016, Dawn launched her first full length album of Mandarin jazz originals with a concert presented by Singapore's landmark arts centre, The Esplanade. The whimsical album "Marco Lopo" contains songs about imaginary worlds and features some of Singapore's top names in jazz, ethnic instruments (Sitar and Tabla), and world percussion by New York-based Japanese percussionist Keita Ogawa (Snarky Puppy). To promote this album, Dawn tool her band 'The Ark Royal' on tour to Taiwan in 2015 and 2016 with a grant from the National Arts Council of Singapore.
Apart from originals and English jazz standards, Dawn keeps the jazz tradition alive as the vocalist for classic mandarin jazz band 'The Shanghai Jazz Club' which has performed full house shows at the Esplanade Concourse, Sing Jazz Club (closed), Montreux Jazz Café (Singapore), and to enthusiastic reception from audiences at the Silver Arts Festival and Arts in Your Neighbourhood series.
In addition to performing, Dawn assumes the roles of creative producer and arts manager to help others fulfil their artistic visions and conducts workshops in MOE schools to introduce the next generation of Singaporeans to different facets of music.
Dawn has completed her studies and obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Performing Arts (Music) as a jazz vocal major at LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore). She also has a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce (with Distinction) from the University of New South Wales (Australia).