"I don't know where to start," that is my perception when doing this feature interview for Ken Lyen. That is because Ken is multi talented, and has a superb and impressive biography in the arts and entertainment field, and even in his own non related job in the medical field.
A consultant pediatrician, he has a clinic and at the same time holds many positions in regards to the medical field. And add a record of 12 related medical books and numerous papers to that.
But 'official work' aside, Ken has many other hobbies and passion - which is what drew me to know more about him.
With 12 rather serious books under his belt, that can be quite something for someone who doesn't proclaim to be a full time author. But more interestingly, he says that his 'serious' works are not all that serious as he 'injects humour into his writing'.
The Less Serious Ken
In fact, there is this lighter side of him as well, where he actually co-wrote a cartoon book with a Vietnamese cartoonist, Bao Dat in Dat's My Baby. Despite the comic book falling within the scope of his job/ work, but the book is readable by any. I actually read it as well, and find it amusing too - a somewhat comical take on children and the young.
The one thing I'm most impressed with Ken is his ability to actually 'indulge' in his passion and hobby in the music and theatre industry.
Off work, Ken has since composed hundreds of songs, mainly of which are suited for theatre musicals. It won't be surprising actually, as Ken has played the piano since 3 years old, took up the violin at the age of 9, and have been singing in a choir and playing in the orchestra at 11.
With so many songs composed, it would be hard to point his favourite. However, with the guidelines of 'the melodies, the originality of the lyrics, and their life-affirming ethos', he mentions these 3 songs as his favourite:
1. It Seems a Little Strange
2. Reaching for a Shining Star
I particularly like Reaching for a Shinning Star, which stays true to his style of melodious music and meaningful lyrics.
Ken's impressive record goes beyond theatre, and amongst the other highlights are writing music for the Singapore's National Day Parade 1997 and composing for MediaCorp TV 6-part TV Musical called School House Rockz (April 2008).
And he is now embarking on an animation project where he is developing the characters.
The Ever Supporter Of The Arts
Apart from his very own works, Ken is actually very much involved in supporting new local talents, especially in the composition, theatre works and even filmmakers.
He is so supportive in the theatre works that he is actually part of the Musical Theatre Limited where he helps nurture new talents - from identifying, developing and also giving them opportunities to stage their own musicals in the Esplanade Singapore!
The Love For His Nation
Being somewhat a patriot, Ken aims to help find the artistic soul of Singapore. Especially with the current initiatives by the Government, Ken sees that Singapore's art scene will continue to grow, and will someday lead it to be recognised internationally.
And how he plans to be part of this? The humble Ken replies - a modest one, where he would like to be a catalyst in the process.
To those of you who love theatre music, Ken is giving 3 of his Magic Paintbrush CDs away. All you need to do is to feedback to Ken on anything under the sun - either on his works or on the arts scene in Singapore, or for that matter even Malaysia (or any part in the world).
Contest ends: 4 November 2008.