Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble Depart for Malaysia and Singapore Posted on January 21st, 2020 by

Photos by Stan Waldhauser '71

The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Dr. Ruth Lin and Dr. Dave Stamps, embark January 24 on a two-week tour of Malaysia and Singapore.

The ensembles will perform at high profile venues such as the Shaw Foundation Stage at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the Dewan Sri Pinang Hall in Penang, Malaysia. The student musicians will also participate in exchanges with local musicians from the Kinta Valley Symphony Society in Malaysia and the Raffles Institution in Singapore among others. With visits to the Batu Caves, hawker centers, the Gardens by the Bay, and several night markets in Malaysia, students will have the chance to experience the local culture in their free time. 

As part of the tour repertoire, the ensemble will premier a piece titled Fanfare for a Weapon-Free World, written by EMMY award-winning composer Steve Heitzeg ’82. The piece is dedicated to Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Fihn accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on the campaign’s behalf in 2017. This piece will be performed using the carillon bells in the chapel. This commission is made possible by the Class of 1954 Carillon Bells Endowment Fund. Heitzeg will give a pre-concert talk prior to the home concert on February 16 about the piece.

In addition to intensive daily rehearsals during the January term, students took a three-week course taught by Dr. Steve Mellema ’72 in preparation for the tour. Mellema is a physics professor at Gustavus, and he worked as a high school physics and chemistry teacher in Malaysia with the Peace Corps. The course focuses on the history and culture of Malaysia and Singapore.

The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Gustavus Jazz Ensemble have a rich history of touring and performing together, both domestically and internationally. Each ensemble will perform its own repertoire, but they will also combine to form a studio orchestra, creating a unique musical experience for the audience. Musical selections range from classic jazz and orchestral works to newer pieces by contemporary composers. Previously, the groups have traveled to the British Isles, the People’s Republic of China, South Africa, and Greece and Macedonia.

Upon their return, the ensembles will perform a home concert at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 16 in Christ Chapel. This performance is free and open to the public and will also be livestreamed. The ensembles will also keep a blog of their adventures that will be updated regularly while on tour.

Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Gustavus Jazz Ensemble Singapore/Malaysia Tour

Tuesday, January 28 | 8:30 p.m.
ASWARA Academy
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Thursday, January 30 | 8:30 p.m.
Dewan Sri Penang Hall
Penang, Malaysia

Friday, January 31 | 8 p.m.
Weil Hotel
Ipoh, Malaysia

Saturday, February 1 
Music workshop/exchange with Kinta Valley Symphony Society at Ipoh Town Hall
Ipoh, Malaysia 

Monday, February 3 | 8:30 p.m.
Kolej Yayasan Saad
Malacca, Malaysia

Wednesday, February 5
Music workshop/exchange with students from the Raffles Institute

Friday, February 7 | 6 p.m.
Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, Singapore Botanic Gardens

Sunday, February 16 | 1:30 p.m.
Home Concert
Christ Chapel, Gustavus Adolphus College
*Pre-concert talk with Steve Heitzeg ’82 begins at 12:30 p.m.



  1. Lou Jagielski says:

    ..♥️You will be Amazing ♥️

  2. Carla Headlee says:

    My son picked up a Gustavus Symphony Orchestra member at the airport last night upon her return from Singapore and has been in contact with that student. This morning I read that there are several cases of coronavirus in Singapore. What precautions were recommended to students returning from an area known to be infected with the virus?

    Thank you for any information you can share. I am also awaiting a call from an on call nurse from my son’s doctor’s office.