Touted as one of the most promising musicians of his generation, (The Straits Time Singapore), percussionist Derek Koh’s sensitive musical voice and varied musical ventures have afforded him the opportunity to perform extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia. His burgeoning rise as a dynamic and flexible musician has led him to work with art forms of all genres and mediums, from western and Chinese classical music to theatre and dance.
Part of award-winning Chinese Chamber Ensemble Ding Yi Music Company since 2010, Derek appears regularly as a freelance percussionist with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. He has also been invited as guest percussionist for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, guest timpanist for the Szechuan Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared alongside musicians from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. In 2016, he was selected to be in the inaugural Musician Fellowship program started by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Derek has also won fellowship positions in the Grammy-award winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (New York), Aspen Music Festival (Aspen, Colorado), Miami Music Festival (Miami, Florida), and PRISMA Festival, (British Columbia).
With percussive music at its formative stages, Derek is a proponent for contemporary music and is dedicated to creating new works for his instrument. He has premiered solo and chamber works from composers such as Zhou Long, Liu Qing, Eric Watson, Dr Zechariah Goh, Julian Wong and Phang Kokjun. Derek has held two sold-out recitals at the Esplanade Recital Studio and has appeared as soloist with the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Orchestra, The Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore and also Ding Yi Music Company. As an educator, he has led the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) Percussion Ensemble, lectured at NAFA, and the School of the Arts, Singapore.
In 2020, Derek co-founded Morse Percussion, Singapore’s first professional contemporary classical percussion group made up of some of Singapore’s finest percussion talents. He will be leading them in their upcoming productions including “Ghosts of Yesteryear” at the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2021 at the Esplanade Concert Hall in May and “ENTER:”, Morse Percussion’s inaugural recital at the Esplanade Recital Studio.
A graduate of NAFA School of Young Talents where he was scouted at the age of 5, he continued his undergraduate studies at the institution where he received his Bachelor of Music (First Class Honours) conferred by the Royal College of Music (RCM) under the tutelage of Mark Suter, Christian Schiøler, David Hockings, Sam Walton and Anthony Kerr. Derek most recently received his Master’s degree at Mannes School of Music under the support of the prestigious Mannes Dean’s Scholarship, studying under Maya Gunji, Joseph Tompkins, and Michael Werner.