Music News

OneBeat: Your Musical Window to the World!

ONEBEAT is an initiative by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs which brings together musicians aged 19 – 35 from around the world for one month to write, produce, and perform original music collaboratively.

The program begins with an opening residency, where selected musicians, or fellows, collaborate to create original material, record new musical ideas, and work on projects. These fellows then go on a two-week tour, performing for different American audiences, collaborating with local musicians, and leading workshops.

During a closing residency, each fellow lays out their plans for the future in their home country and think of ways to enhance social interactions through music and unity.

[…]  At OneBeat we encourage musicians to listen deeply to each others’ musical voices, and to create work that values the complexity and idiosyncrasies of each tradition, creating risky, wholly unique musical works.

— OneBeat

OneBeat aims to help musicians from various backgrounds find common ground and create new musical combinations together. It hopes to also spark the thinking that music can lead us to a better world.

In the years 2014 and 2015 respectively, Malaysian musicians Neil Chua and Ng Chor Guan became fellows. Here’s a little bit about the both of them.

Neil Chua


Neil Chua is from Klang and he’s a ruan player. If you don’t know what a ruan is, it’s an ancient Chinese instrument that looks like the modern day guitar’s great grandfather. It originates from the Tang Dynasty and was only used by the higher-ups and royals.

It’s a bit of a lost art, but Neil wishes to bring it back and reignite the spark. To date, he’s the only Malaysian musician to earn a master’s degree specializing in traditional ruan, a certification he obtained from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music!

He has brought the ruan to festivals around the region, including China, Taiwan and Singapore. Neil is also an educator and the backbone of Ruanatworkz, a place where you can learn more about the ruan and be updated on ruan performances.

Ng Chor Guan

ng chor guan

Ng Chor Guan also hails from Klang and was a OneBeat fellow in 2015. He is a renowned local music composer who has scored extensively for film and stage, and he has also traveled extensively around the world with his unique brand of electronic music.

He is best known as one of Malaysia’s few theremin players. The theremin — responsible for all those bendy high-pitched sounds that accompany aliens on the screen — is an electronic instrument created in 1920 which doesn’t require physical contact to manipulate. By waving one’s hand in the theremin’s three-dimensional field, different pitches and sounds can be created.

Ng Chor Guan also happens to be a co-founder of Tocatta Studio in SS2 which regularly hosts cool events like Space Age and Mobile Phone Orchestra. Check his many projects via Tocatta Studio’s website and Facebook account!

Applications for OneBeat 2016 has already closed, but check out OneBeat for more information!

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