Nanyang Alumni Achievement Award Recipient (2008)~Dr Liang Wern Fook~
Maestro, writer and educator, all in one
Having graduated from NIE in 1999 with a PhD in Chinese Studies, Dr Liang is one who wears many hats.
To date, he undoubtedly remains one of the most influential figures in the music scene. A prolific composer and lyricist, you could stroll down the aisle of CD albums and you would uncover a record store's worth of tunes by Dr Liang. After all, his compositions have been sung by Mandopop heavyweights such as Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and Stefanie Sun.
The albums that Dr Liang has had a hand in have also boasted sterling record sales. Often, the tunes composed by the multi-talented maestro dominate the Mandarin pop record charts, with some being selected as theme songs for numerous drama serial productions, even advertisement jingles. He was voted "Person Who Best Represents the Xinyao Spirit" in a public poll conducted by COMPASS in 2003.
Adding another feather to his musical cap, a Mandarin musical based on his songs, "If There're Seasons…", played to a sold-out audience in 2007. The musical was so well received that it is the most successful Mandarin musical in Singapore to date Dr Liang also composed the score for Singapore's first Mandarin musical, "December Rains", in 1996.
In addition to his illustrious career in music, Dr Liang is also a published poet and essayist. With over 10 books published and exuding passion for essay writing, his essay collection, "The Last Years of Kreta Ayer", poetry collection, "In Fact I am in Love with Time" and short-story collection, "The 21 Dreams of Liang Wern Fook", have all garnered critical acclaim and paved a new direction for Singapore's Chinese literature. The books chronicled the changes in feeling and expression in a post-modern society brought about by peer pressure and the added complexity of life.
His works, which struck a familiar chord with readers, led to him being voted the "Most Popular Writer" by students in a poll organised by Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, in 1990. In 1992, he received the National Art Council's first Young Artist Award in Literature.
Currently, Dr Liang holds the position of Assistant Professor (Adjunct) with the Division of Chinese at NTU. He teaches and mentors students in Chinese language, Chinese literature and Chinese creative writing. He explains, "It is important that we inculcate in our present generation the basic fundamentals of the Chinese language. This is easily lost with the myriad Western influences in present day popular culture. By way of my teaching and works, I hope that students would learn to appreciate the beauty of the Chinese language and seek to use it more frequently in everyday life." Dr Liang also runs the Xue Er You Language Centre, a Chinese language enrichment centre for primary and secondary school students.
His influence is still keenly felt in the music industry. He pens a few songs every year, which he offers to singers he feels are best able to convey the nuances and emotions of his works. In the words of the distinguished late dramatist Kuo Pao Kun, Dr Liang's work "bridges music and literature in the Singapore arts scene". With all his contributions through the years, Dr Liang has left an indelible impression on local music and the literary scene; an influence that will continue to shape future generations to come.