Playing the Underdog: The Flying Inkpot interviews violist Jeremy Chiew


JeremyChiewPlaying the Underdog: The Flying Inkpot interviews Jeremy Chiew

by Aileen Tang

Q: What’s the difference between a chainsaw and a viola?

A: The law doesn’t require a DANGER: MAY CAUSE INJURY warning label on a viola.

Asking a violist to tell a viola joke might seem counterintuitive, but Jeremy Chiew gladly accedes, if only to highlight the injury-prone nature of playing the viola due to its larger size. With trusted accompanist Lim Yan at the keyboard, Chiew hopes to ‘demystify misconceptions about the viola, or at least increase public awareness of it.’

‘The programme is selected to showcase the viola,’ he says, ‘A lot of musical colours and good tunes, with a little virtuosity thrown in. I hope the audience will approach the recital with an open mind and grow to appreciate this instrument.’ Viva Viola is the first concert of the Kris Foundation’s 2016 Season and also marks its inaugural collaboration with the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO) and features SNYO principal violist, Daniel Ong, who performs alongside Chiew, himself an SNYO alumnus. A non-profit founded in 2011, the foundation’s focus on inter-disciplinary projects aims to nurture and empower young classical musicians, while enhancing the musical landscape of Singapore.  

Featured in the programme are the heavyweight Hindemith viola sonata and the more lyrical Vieuxtemps viola sonata. To keep things interesting, there will be a little something different each night: selected movements from Bartók’s Duos for 2 Violins on the first and Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 on the second, both transcribed for viola. It seems almost inevitable that the violist plays music originally written for the violin or cello. However, Chiew explains that as long as the transcribed music considers the ‘unique and diverse tonal colours’ of the viola, the only real difference between transcribed and ‘authentic’ viola repertoire is in the ‘inherent musical value of the composition itself.’

Championing and celebrating the oft-misunderstood viola, this concert will be a presentation of something off the beaten track: something fresh for the audience’s ears!

Tickets for Viva Viola are available from SISTIC at


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