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.
Derek is currently Section Percussion at the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and most recently performed with the Berlin Philharmonic new music ensemble ZeMU! Ensemble at the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2022. He has been regular sub with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and has also been invited as guest percussionist for the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and guest timpanist for the Szechuan Symphony Orchestra. Derek has won fellowship positions in the renowned Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Miami Music Festival and PRISMA Festival. He has also appeared in multi-genre projects including Disney’s Live Action Mulan soundtrack, two West One Music Group music albums, and a theatre production “The Noisy Forest” commissioned by the Esplanade.
Derek is Creative Director of contemporary percussion collective Morse Percussion and has led the team to critical acclaim at the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2021 Visiting Artists at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, and featured artists at the Soundislands: Re: Sound festival at the ArtScience Museum. A proponent for contemporary music, he has premiered almost fifty solo and chamber works from composers such as Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Joyce Koh, Emily Koh, Eric Watson, Zechariah Goh. Most recently, Derek released a contemporary music EP “APOLLO” with leading contemporary violist Christoven Tan premiering works by local composers Emily Koh and Bertram Wee in October 2021.
Dedicated to promoting and upkeeping musical traditions within the community, Derek is currently Chairman at the Singapore Chinese Music Federation Youth Chapter, Secretary-General at the Percussion Association of Singapore and Adjunct Faculty at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the Singapore Armed Forces Band.
A graduate of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts 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 conferred by the Royal College of Music under the tutelage of Mark Suter, Christian Schiøler, David Hockings, Sam Walton and Anthony Kerr. Derek received his Master of Music at the Mannes School of Music with a full Mannes Dean’s Scholarship, studying under Maya Gunji, Joseph Tompkins, and Michael Werner.
Derek is a Freer Percussion Artist and plays exclusively on Freer Percussion mallets.