Tianhui Ng

Orchestra Director; Associate Professor of Music

The American Prize winning conductor Ng Tian Hui is Music Director of the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra (USA), and the Interim Music Director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Symphony Orchestra (USA).

Innovative programming

His innovative programming has been acknowledged with grants from institutions such as the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Arts Council of Singapore, Singapore International Foundation, Women’s Philharmonic, and WomenArts, in addition to other awards from the Oregon Bach Festival, the Dartington International Music Festival, the Yale School of Music, and the Singapore Government Public Service Commission.

Advocating new music

An advocate of new music, he has assisted in and premiered new works by Pulitzer and Rome Prize winners such as Curt Cacioppo, Aaron Jay Kernis, Robert Kyr, David Sanford, and Joan Tower, and many young composers. He is particularly proud of his commissioning work, which has helped composers like Chen Zhangyi garner international prizes such as the London Symphony Orchestra Prize. His 2001 direction of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress was praised by the Birmingham Post (UK) for its “high orchestral quality” while his 2014 premiere of Mary D. Watkins’s Civil Rights era opera, Dark River, was critically acclaimed in the United States.

International and versatile conducting 

Tian has conducted orchestras around the world including the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Czech Republic), Dartington Festival Orchestra (UK), Orchestra of the Royal Opera of Wallonie (Belgium), and the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra (USA), and musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra (UK), Orquestra de Cadaqués (Spain), Scottish Chamber Orchestra (UK), Tempesta di Mare (USA), and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Canada).

A versatile musician, he is equally at home in the realm of choral music and has conducted ensembles like the Stuttgart Chamber Choir (Germany), Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus (USA), Oregon Bach Festival Chorus (USA), Yale Schola Cantorum (USA), and the Young Person’s Chorus of New York (USA). He has collaborated with internationally renowned artists such as Dashon Burton, Tyler Duncan, Marcus Eiche, Adrianne Greenbaum, Ayano Kataoka, Ilya Polataev, Gary Steigerwalt, Astrid Schween, Philip Lima, Hanna Elisabeth Müller, Nicholas Phan, James Taylor, Gilles Vonsattel and Soyoung Yoon.

Tian’s irrepressible musical spirit first expressed itself when he conducted a choir of kindergarten children in his native Singapore at the age of five. A pianist, singer, and trombonist, he later studied composition and early music at the University of Birmingham (UK) where he discovered his love for Stravinsky and contemporary music.

Creative and interdisciplinary approaches

Returning home, he helped found one of the first contemporary music ensembles in the country and was soon composing for animation, dance, film, chorus, and orchestra. It was during this time that he discovered his affinity for interdisciplinary work and created the groundbreaking site-specific community-based arts festival, NOMAD, with which he has won awards from the Singapore National Arts Council. His works have since been heard in diverse settings such as the Hong Kong Film Festival, Animation World Magazine (USA), and Apsara Asia Dance (Singapore).

Tian continued his education at the Yale School of Music (USA) where he helped to start a new tradition with the music of his graduation recital reflecting on war and conflict. There, he fed his passion for the masterworks of the choral orchestral repertoire, assisting such renowned interpreters as Nicholas McGegan, Masaaki Suzuki, Dale Warland, Simon Carrington, Marguerite Brooks and Jeffrey Douma. His recent studies have included work with Paolo Arrivabeni, John Carewe, Peter Eötvös, Kurt Masur, and Michel Tabachnik.

Recent Campus News

Members of the Mount Holyoke faculty, such as Tianhui Ng (pictured), are working with the Pioneer Valley Symphony to examine contributions of women composers.

Local orchestra focuses on women composers

Members of the Mount Holyoke faculty are playing a key role in the Pioneer Valley Symphony’s new look at women composers.

Tianhui-Ng- Pioneer Valley Symphony

Using new music to tip the scales for justice

Mount Holyoke associate professor Tianhui Ng worked with White Snake Projects to stage an online concert. 

Tianhui-Ng- Pioneer Valley Symphony

Using music to build community

For Mount Holyoke music professor Tianhui Ng, conducting the Pioneer Valley Symphony is a chance to work with community members from all over the region.

Digital arts in action: Younghoo Cho ’19 took Acoustic Ecology and Sonic Art, taught by music professor Thomas Ciufo, in the new digital music lab in Pratt Hall last fall.

Arts, amplified

A speaker series from the new Digital Arts Initiative brings world-class scholars and artists to campus to discuss how arts and technology interact.

The College’s Makerspace is a central location for the campus maker culture.

MHC leaps into 21st-century maker culture

Thanks a generous grant, MHC’s new MEDIAL Project is integrating arts and technology and giving students resources to create, exhibit and perform.

Recent Grants

Native American and Indigenous Studies Mellon Award by Five Colleges, Incorporated (FCI) and the Gathering at the Crossroads project, for a residency project with Native composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate leading to the creation of a new course and the first ever full-length Chickasaw opera, Shellshaker. The project is for one year. This funding is made possible thanks to support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

Recent Honors

Was a guest speaker together with librettist and producer, Cerise Jacobs, and composer, Jorge Sosa at Maastricht University's Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music Symposium on April 22, 2021. The session was titled, Alice in the Pandemic - An Opera for the Pandemic, and the Promise of New Possibilities.

Work with White Snake Projects and the Victory Players, on Cerise Lim Jacobs and Jorge Sosa Ortega's new opera "Alice in the Pandemic" has been recognized by the Library of Congress as an "exceptional work" that "embodies the artistic qualities and subject content we are seeking" for its Performing Arts COVID-19 Response Collection.  

Music directed  "SWELL", a multimedia event featuring live performance online, centered on texts by Melisa Tien, hosted by the HERE Arts Center in New York and promoted by the American Composers Forum. Featuring 10 original songs offering insights into the immigrant experience today in the U.S. Live performances ran from March 16 - 21, 2021 and will remain asynchronously available for the next 2 months. 

Created and produced "Identity Duets", a concert of 7 world premieres by composers of Puerto Rican heritage, as a joint artistic response to the pandemic. Performed by the Victory Players, the show premiered in joint presentation by New England Public Media and the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts,on January 23, 2021, and was presented again on March 7, 2021 by Pregones Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in association with BronxNET in New York City as part of the March is Music 2021 Series. 

Was a contributing partner for a successful Discovery Grant of $14,286 awarded by Opera America for the development of Mary D Watkins's Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story. The funding is for two years and will support development work to bring it to larger stages.