HEAD OF FLUTE
Singapore-based award winning jazz flutist, composer, educator and bandleader, Rit Xu has emerged as a leading light of his generation and is slowly gaining international recognition for his lyrical, thoughtful and introspective musical voice on the flute. His passionate, wholehearted and at times highly energetic performances has reached and inspired listeners from Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan to Mexico, Slovakia, Switzerland, South Africa and the United States, amongst many other countries. In 2014, at age 25, Rit was recognized for his finesse as a flutist and improviser by being named winner of the United States National Flute Association’s Jazz Artist Competition.
Raised in multi-cultural Singapore and a musical family, he had fond memories of his musical upbringing – “There were numerous occasions I will be at the backstage watching my mother sing Cantonese opera, then I find myself at a jazz club the next moment where my late-father played piano. My father taught me to pay attention and exposed me to music of various genres. It could be Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Bach, Bartok or Hariprasad Chaurasia – I absorbed everything. It definitely had an impact on who I am today as a performer and composer.” Subsequently he went through additional training from age 10 to 16 at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Art’s School of Young Talents where he gained a solid foundation in performance, music history, harmony and theory.
Still only in his twenties, Rit is also highly sought-after in the Singapore music scene both as a soloist and session musician, bringing with him a wealth of experiences into the recording studio and concert hall since the age of 9. Although the Boehm flute is his primary tool of expression, his versatility extends to a broad spectrum of instruments in the flute family including the EWI, Chinese bamboo flutes, shakuhachi, Indian bansuri, Andes quena and the pan flutes. Rit played all flute solos in the soundtrack of Taiwanese epic movie, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, which won the 48th Golden Horse Award for best original film score.
Since bursting onto the Singapore jazz scene in 2011 after winning first prize in the Thailand International Jazz Solo Competition, Rit has steered a steady course of growth as an instrumentalist and composer. He continues to gain invaluable bandstand experience as a sideman while also creating his own musical statements as a bandleader. His debut album, "On a Little Street in Singapore: A Jazzy Conversation" was released in August 2014 featuring a showcase for duets with ace pianist Eugene Ang. "Jazz duos come in all shapes, size, timbres and colours. I was inspired by some the greatest pairings- Jim Hall and Bill Evans, Hank Jones and Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenón and Danilo Perez, Aaron Parks and George Garzone etc. The idea behind this album is an attempt to re-create in this timeless tradition which my friend Eugene and I immensely enjoyed."
As an ensemble musician and sideman, Rit has been involved in many diverse projects. In 2015, he made his debut appearance with the Swiss Youth World Music Ensemble and performed at the annual Jazzaar Festival alongside jazz heavyweights such as A.T.N. Stadwijk, Donny McCaslin, Rodney Holmes, Csaba Toth Bagi, Kai Eckhardt, Anders Bostrom, Jamshied Sharifi and Ismail Lumonovski. During the same year, he took part in a region-wide audition and successfully won a spot in the prestigious, 26-piece Asian Youth Jazz Orchestra, led by the great Japanese trombonist and conductor, Osamu Matsumoto and pianist Mayuko Katakura. Back home, Rit is a key member of Jeremy Monteiro's Jazz Brasileiro, the Greg Lyons Quintet and his 10-piece modern jazz outlet Omniform, the Lorong Boys, amongst many others.
A recent graduate in classical flute performance from the famed Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music of the National University of Singapore, Rit is deeply appreciative of his education at the Conservatory – "It's a highly niche area of study focused on developing our skills not only in solo, chamber and orchestral music but also as all-rounded musicians with a range of relevant skills, whether in performing, writing or teaching. This experience has not only shaped me into a better jazz musician but also a better person. I hope to contribute back to society through all that I have learnt with a life in music and improvisation.” At his free time, Rit enjoys a variety of sports such as mountain biking, indoor climbing, swimming and competitive bowling. He also has a keen interest in positive psychology, achieving mental well-being and read a lot into the humanities, especially history. Rit plays on Powell and Weissenberg flutes.