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We highlight 5 milestones achieved by the first Singapore-based jazz charity as it celebrates its fifth anniversary this year

In the five years that the Jazz Association (Singapore) (Jass) has been around, the music industry has witnessed and felt its positive impacts to elevate the standard of the genre in the region. Outstanding budding jazz musicians have also been given the opportunity to further nurture their talents, while notable international jazz musicians have been invited to take the spotlight for Singapore-based audiences to enjoy. 

Yet despite the adversities faced by the arts industry in the past year, the onset of the pandemic did not see the association falter in their objectives as they continually strived to support the jazz ecosystem through and through. During then, we saw an effort to bring the joy of jazz to folks in the comfort of their homes: the release of their first digital album Two's Company, which includes exuberant, and at times reflective tunes, featuring performances by Jass Music Director and Executive Director Jeremy Monteiro and Associate Music Director, Weixiang Tan. A slew of performances and concerts were streamed online as well that continued to showcase the best that jazz has to offer. 

The young association has come a long way, and survived what has been an arduous year for many. Here, we highlight its top five milestones that have contributed to the growth of the local music scene: 

1. They are home to two orchestras

The association currently has 36 musicians under their wing who make up two orchestras—the Jazz Association Singapore Orchestra (Jasso) and Jazz Association Singapore Youth Orchestra (Jassyo!). The former is the association's main orchestra, and comprises of 20 professional jazz musicians and a handful of members from its youth orchestra, while the latter was set up in hopes of engaging and developing the talents of jazz youth musicians below the age of 35. 

(Related: This Jazz Association Is Making Waves In Singapore’s Music Scene)


2. They are dedicated to nurturing the next wave of jazz talents in Singapore

Since 2016, the association has been a jazz hub founded by Jeremy Monteiro—also known as Singapore's King of Swing—together with friends who share the same passion for the music genre. Today, it stands as a leading hub for Singapore's jazz scene, and is also dedicated in supporting budding jazz artists in their pursuit of the art form. 

A first of its kind in Singapore, musicians looking to pursue a Bachelor's or Master's in jazz performance or composition can apply for the Jass Music Scholarship. The association aims to award up to two scholarships in jazz studies annually for those looking to pursue higher education pathways both internationally and locally, and has awarded five scholarships thus far. Of the scholars include notable Singaporean flautist, Rit Xu, who is currently pursuing his Master's at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College New York. Those who are familiar with Xu's work would also know that he helmed all flute solos in the soundtrack of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, a Taiwanese movie which won the 48th Golden Horse Award for best original film score. 

(Related: Jeremy Monteiro Brings Together Musicians For A Livestream Concert To Celebrate International Jazz Day 2020)


3. Their orchestras have performed alongside jazz heavyweights

Of the association's many objectives, it also aims to collaborate with industry giants to elevate Singapore's position as a vibrant city of jazz in the region. As such, audiences residing in Singapore have had the privilege to experience the music of jazz vocalists Carmen Bradford, Kenny Washington, Jasmine Chen, Tina May and Laura Fygi among many others, who once shared the spotlight with the association's orchestras. 

(Related: Some Enchanted Evening Jazz Gala)

4. They alleviate the financial burdens of local jazz musicians

It's no secret that the pandemic has devastated many industries, resulting in an incredible increase in unemployment and revenue loss. Among them, it's safe to say that the arts and creative sectors suffered on an unprecedented scale as performance venues were not allowed to operate as well in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. 

Recognising the financial strains that the pandemic has placed on musicians who rely on performing as their bread and butter, Jass stepped in to establish a new pillar: to create a short-term financial aid support system that funds eligible local jazz musicians impacted by the crisis. To date, the association has funded nine musicians through the fund, and continues to keep a lookout for others going through similar struggles. 

5. Jass Benefit Gala 2021: Let There Be Love

To celebrate its fifth-anniversary milestone and fundraise for its various charitable arms, the association will host its first-ever virtual jazz gala in Singapore with a twist. Besides a specially curated dinner delivered to their doorsteps, guests who tune in will be treated to the sweet vocals of Laura Fygi as she performs remotely from Amsterdam where she resides, alongside the Jasso ensemble helmed by Singapore's very own King of Swing, Jeremy Monteiro. The virtual gala will also feature a slew of virtual reality and immersive augmented reality components to make the evening even more memorable. Fashionistas can look forward to participating in the "Best Headdress" competition, where the winners with the most fabulous head accessories will be awarded special prizes from MTM Skincare. 

Book your spot at the Jass Benefit Gala here

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