Mr Tay studied the sanxian under Mr Yang Hao Ran, an accomplished musician of traditional Southern Chinese music, in the 1960s. In 1980, he studied conducting and music theory under the esteemed musician and educator Professor Li Yi of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 1999, he studied conducting under the tutelage of Professor Cao Peng.
Since 1985, Mr Tay has accepted numerous invitations to conduct professional Chinese Orchestras from places such as Shanghai, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shandong and Baotou as a guest conductor. He has also been invited to attend or preside in international Chinese music conferences and competitions held in Chicago, Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Under Mr Tay’s leadership, NAFA CCO and DHSCO have received a high degree of recognition and accolades from both local and foreign critics. Furthermore, his creatively programmatic concerts have delighted local audiences, and enhanced the interaction between the music communities in Singapore and China.
Since 1982, Mr Tay has led NAFA CCO and DHSCO on performance tours in Thailand, Hong Kong, Taipei, Kaohsiung, East and West Malaysia, Brunei, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Zhanjiang, Tianjin, Guilin, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Suzhou, Jiangyin, Xi’an, Zhengzhou, Shenyang and Changchun.
In 1992, a Chinese music magazine – “People’s Music”, described Mr Tay’s conducting as “… meticulous, precise and sensitive…yet graceful and refined. His insightful understanding and grasp of traditional music culture enables him to render different music styles accurately, bringing out the essence of each piece of music through the orchestra… one cannot help but be impressed by the calibre of his conducting, and his ability to train an orchestra”.
For his contributions, Mr Tay was awarded the National Day Efficiency Medal in 1989 and the Commendation Plaque (by the Extra Curricular Activities Centre, ECAC) for music and dance activities in 1991. He also received the National Arts Council Cultural Medallion in 1993 and the National Day Award — Long Service Medal (Education Service) in 1997.
In addition to developing DHSCO and NAFA CCO under his baton, Mr Tay has also contributed immensely in training many young musical talents in Singapore. Some of them have gone on to become professional musicians and young conductors in their own rights. These two orchestras under his baton and many of his students have won numerous gold medals, such as “Best Performance Awards”, “Best Orchestra Awards”, as well as the top three prizes in various National Music Competitions and Youth Festival Chinese Music Competitions. Their participation and achievements have helped raise the standard of Chinese music in Singapore and established a firm foundation for further excellence.
For his contributions, Mr Tay was awarded the National Day Efficiency Medal in 1989 and the Commendation Plaque (by the Extra Curricular Activities Centre) for music and dance activities in 1991. He also received the National Arts Council Cultural Medallion in 1993 and the National Day Award — Long Service Medal (Education Service) in 1997.