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25 March 2008

Yong Loo Lin Trust Makes $25 Million Gift to Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at NUS

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Gift to support scholarships and special projects will enable the Conservatory to help raise Singapore's profile as a city of the arts

Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is pleased to announce that it has received a generous $25 million gift from the Yong Loo Lin Trust. This is the second $25 million gift that the Trust has made to the Conservatory. The first gift from the Trust was received in 2003, the year of the Conservatory's official opening.

The latest endowed gift, made in support of scholarships and special projects, will qualify for a dollar-for-dollar matching grant from the Singapore Government.

Mr Goh Yew Lin, Chairman of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music's Governing Board, said the new gift will help take the five-year-old Conservatory to a new stage of development.

"We are extremely grateful to the Yong Loo Lin Trust for its generous support to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music since its inception," said Mr Goh. "The first $25 million gift we received from the Trust in 2003 supported our mission to establish a state-of-the-art Conservatory in Singapore. The Yong Siew Toh Conservatory now offers a four-year, full-time undergraduate degree programme, with a curriculum that provides a strong foundation for students to pursue their artistic development," he added.

"This second $25 million gift from the Trust will enable the Conservatory to continue to offer full scholarships to its students, joining a very small number of similarly-endowed institutions in the world. This will enable us to continue to attract students of the highest caliber. The new gift, which is also designated for the support of special projects to be announced later, will further enable the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music to help raise Singapore's profile as a city of the arts," Mr Goh said.

A statement from the Yong Loo Lin Trust said, "The Trust chose to make a second gift to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory at NUS because we believe that it will help bring the Conservatory, in partnership with the Peabody Institute, one step closer towards its aim of becoming a centre of international standing in music education. The Trust sees its continued support for the Conservatory as a strategic contribution to Singapore, by enabling the Conservatory to continue to attract high quality intakes of students."

The Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music traces its beginnings to 2001, when NUS and the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University signed an agreement to establish Singapore's first music conservatory at NUS. In 2003, the Conservatory was named the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in recognition of a $25 million from the Yong Loo Lin Trust - and also in honour of the late Ms Yong Siew Toh, a daughter of Dr Yong Loo Lin who dedicated her life to teaching music. In the same year, the Conservatory also began its inaugural class with 71 students. Currently, over 170 students from 14 countries study at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

In the short period since its foundation in 2003, the Conservatory has moved from strength to strength, attracting students from as far away as the United States, Canada and New Zealand as well as from most East Asian countries. A total of 24 faculty from over 10 countries enhances the international character of the institution. Significant student successes at international competitions (including Singaporeans Abigail Sin and Loh Jun Hong) have helped establish the Conservatory's reputation in its field, a reputation which has been further enhanced through the experience of a succession of international visitors who have been impressed by the Conservatory's facilities and uncompromised commitment to excellence.

Mr Bernard Lanskey, Director of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, said, "We recognise and value the sense of responsibility incumbent with such a generous gift. Not only does it provide a unique opportunity to establish a conservatory of genuinely global standing; it also assists in providing additional supporting resource to reach out and make a difference in our surrounding communities, particularly through interacting with Singaporean youth and involving them actively in music-making."

"In a sense, after the first five years, this gift offers endorsement that the Conservatory is ready for the next stage in its development. We believe that, through close collaboration with Peabody, we can now build a distinctive identity, appropriate to our immediate context but competitive in standard with the world's most established institutions. This has been possible so quickly not only through the support of the Yong Loo Lin Trust but also as a consequence of the vision and investment of the Ministry of Education as well as other corporate and private donors (particularly the National Arts Council, the Singapore Totalisator Board, and the Keppel Corporation) who have contributed generously. A further support of tremendous significance to us has been the loan of valuable string instruments by Mr Rin Kei Mei. The continued support of such organisations and individuals has been vital not only financially but also in establishing strong artistic and community liaisons," Mr Lanskey added.

Expressing the University's appreciation, NUS President Professor Shih Choon Fong said, "We are deeply grateful to the Yong Loo Lin Trust and the Yong family for their steadfast support for NUS over the years. This gift to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music is another instance of their philanthropy that will touch countless lives. Not only will the Yongs' generosity enable more musical talents to be nurtured at NUS, it will also help us continue contributing to Singapore's development as an international arts hub."

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