The 90-member Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is the leading symphonic organization of Southeast Asia.
The orchestra was founded in 1979 by conductor Choo Hoey, who led it for 18 years. It had 41 members at the start. It received support from the government, which agreed with Choo's mission to make the orchestra a world-class orchestra to represent the nation and to build understanding of classical music. The SSO has frequently recorded, specializing originally on Asian compositions. Since obtaining a relationship with the independent Swedish label BIS, it has expanded its repertoire on CD to included the Tchaikovsky ballet suites, the first-ever integral set of symphonies of Alexander Tcherepnin, and recordings of Scandinavian trombone concerto music, as well as music by Chinese composer Tan Dun. The orchestra had undertaken successful tours of Europe (including Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Britain, Greece, and Turkey), and was the first Southeast Asian orchestra invited by the National Orchestra of France to perform in their home, the Salle Pleyel in Paris. In 1998 it made its first appearance in Hong Kong. In 2001, the group toured China. The SSO plays a weekly schedule, presenting over 110 concerts per year. Nearly 80 percent of its membership is Singaporean. It performs at the historic Victoria Concert Hall, and in its popular concerts, at an open-air stage at the Botanic Gardens. In 1997 Choo stepped down from the leadership of the orchestra after hand-picking as his successor the young Shanghai-born maestro Shui Lan (Chinese name order) or Lan Shui (European order). The orchestra has toured internationally since its inception, and its 2010 tour included eight cities in England and Germany.