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Bukit Ho Swee

for Wind Ensemble

The Bukit Ho Swee Fire of 1961 is a tragic episode in Singapore’s modern history that is often cited as the turning point in the nation’s physical and social transformation. The great fire that destroyed the country’s largest and last remaining kampung settlement was the herald to the government’s ambitious public housing plan that saw the development of high-rise apartment buildings. These modern “HDB flats” replaced the sprawling kampungs that were made up of more than 2,000 huts made from wood and roofed with dried leaves from the attap tree. Beyond the stark visual contrast, this was to forever change the way Singaporeans lived together.

“Bukit Ho Swee” is a nostalgic and reflective musical interpretation of this historical event depicting the destruction and reconstruction of Bukit Ho Swee. It is also a memorial to those killed, injured and left homeless that day whose stories may never be heard. The composer hopes that the music can serve as a reminder for posterity of some of the forgotten memories and stories of Bukit Ho Swee, and pay tribute to the pioneer Singaporeans whose sacrifices and indomitable spirit set the foundation for the nation’s future.

Commissioned and premiered by Singapore Wind Symphony

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