Tan Liling, Vanessa

Music is good for my thinking process and helps me concentrate better in my studies.
Discover SIM GE Vanessa (fourth from left) and SIM String Ensemble members performing at the Esplanade on April 17, 2013 “Music is good for my thinking process and helps me concentrate better in my studies,” says Tan Liling Vanessa. And by music she means playing the cello and drawing out its rich, mellow strains. The cello, almost as tall as petite Vanessa when she’s seated, has been her fascination since she began playing it in Secondary 1. The 23-year-old, now in her third year of study at SIM-University of London’s BSc (Hons) in Accounting and Finance, is part of an ensemble of student musicians who will be performing on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Known as the SIMphony concert, it will be conducted by Chan Wei Shing from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. SIMphony concert Vanessa, current president of the SIM String Ensemble club, says this is the third annual concert she is participating in. “The past two SIMphony concerts have been huge successes! The first was in March 2011, and the second a year later. We hope to make the SIMphony concert an annual event as we continue to bring more surprises and share our love and joy of music making. “For this year’s event (April 17, 2013), we will be bringing more contemporary pieces, such as the popular works of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Astor Piazzolla.” But the recital will also include Classical and Romantic music. There will also be three soloists in the opening piece, Corelli's Christmas Concerto, she says. Keeping busy with performances Besides the annual concert, Vanessa and her group of violin, cello and double bass musicians are kept busy throughout the year, performing at the numerous convocation ceremonies at the SIM Global Education campus, at old folks’ homes and once at Okto TV programme in December 2012. They were also invited to perform at many external events as well, such as the Singapore Tourism Board Christmas Event, Social Innovation Park Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner, and the UOL and RMIT Anniversary Dinners, all in 2011 and 2012. “In the UOL commencement ceremonies in early April in 2013, I performed two days in a row,” Vanessa says. After the Esplanade concert it will be exam time in May. Vanessa’s academic choice is Accountancy, a subject as demanding as Chopin’s nocturnes (her personal favourites). “I try to study almost every day,” she says, “or the workload piles up.” Accountancy is more than just balancing the books. You have to read up on the latest rules and regulations and know the complex legal frameworks. And you must also know how to interpret financial reports. After graduation, Vanessa hopes to join an accounting firm and eventually to rise to the position of partner. “It may take me 12-15 years to reach this position,” she says modestly. For such aspirations, she has to continue developing herself professionally, and be qualified as a chartered accountant. For that, she needs to sit for the Singapore QP (Qualification Programme) exams, a newly-launched pathway under the purview of the Singapore Accountancy Commission. What about being a professional musician, instead? “I don’t have that level of commitment,” Vanessa says, explaining that it requires not just technical excellence but also that elusive quality of great expression on stage. “It’s hard to describe, but when you hear great music being performed, you will know it.” Why enrolled with University of London Vanessa gives three reasons for picking UOL. Its programmes are at Honours level, and they can be completed in three years. And UOL is of course one of the highest-ranked universities in the world. The clincher is that its flexible timetable allows her to make time for both music and studies. Vanessa graduates in mid-2013 and is now working at a multinational bank in its Private Banking Account Control. Interviewed and posted online on 12 April 2013, updated on October 28, 2013