In 1926, Mr T.W. Hinch founded the first ‘orchestral ensemble’ with the help of Goh Soon Tioe, who was then a student. Consisting of violins, a cello, a saxophone and a piano, this ensemble gave its first concert in 1930 at a fund-raising event that saw excellent ticket sales. At that concert, they performed works including Sousa’s Gladiator March and Robert Gibbs Youth Triumphant. This orchestra was later renamed the ACS Music Society under the leadership of Mr Benjamin Khoo.
The official date given for the establishment of the ACS Orchestra is 1962. The orchestra grew under the artistic guidance of Mr. Choo Hwee Lim and Mr. Lim Peng Ann – teachers who also acted as conductors and advisors and who saw the ensemble transform into a fully-fledged string orchestra. By 1971, the orchestra had expanded into a symphonic orchestra with wind, brass and percussion sections, and is noted to have performed Handel’s Water Music in 1971 and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances in 1976.
From the 1970s, the ACS orchestra gradually established itself as one of the leading school orchestras in Singapore, taking top position at the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) Central Judging Competition under the leadership of various prominent conductors such as Ms Tan Peng Tow. With the appointment of Mr. Chan Tze Law as Music Director in 1997, the ensemble was henceforth known as the ACS (Independent) Chamber Orchestra.
Finally, in 2006, the inaugural cohort of International Baccalaureate students from the ACS (Independent) Chamber Orchestra championed yet another reformation for the orchestra. With that, the ACS (Independent) Philharmonic Orchestra was born.
The ACS (Independent) Philharmonic Orchestra’s mission is to cultivate youth leadership through music. With strong support from the school, the orchestra seeks to explore the symphonic repertoire under the music direction of Mr Yang Zheng Yi (secondary orchestra) and Mr Edward Tan (IB orchestra), further their contributions to Singapore’s increasingly vibrant music scene, as well as maintain old partnerships whilst establishing new ones with orchestras, chamber groups, schools, and conservatories around the world.
The orchestra has also clinched eleven consecutive top awards at the biennial Singapore Youth Festival Central Judging (1999-2023) – a feat no other school has achieved – and hopes to continue bringing glory to God and the school.