Short Biography

Dr Robert Casteels is a versatile artist, composer, researcher, conductor, pianist and educator. Born in Belgium, he took up permanent residency in Singapore in 1996 and citizenship in 2007. He has contributed tirelessly to Singapore’s music scene, as a member of many arts related committees, as Dean of the Faculty of Performing Arts at LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, as Music Director of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra and the Philharmonic Winds, and as Artistic Director of ‘I’mPULSE’, Asia-Europe Foundation’s first music camp.

Casteels has written a growing corpus of 120 musical works that defy classification because they cross cultures, genres and disciplines. His compositional output was at first atonal, then -coinciding with his arrival in South-East Asia- microtonal (gamelan). Currently it is mostly modal and electro-acoustic. His compositions have been premiered or performed in Australia, Belgium, China, England, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Philippines and Singapore. For four years in a row, his compositions were selected by the Asia Composers League for their festivals in Singapore, Tokyo, Manilla and Hanoi.


In 2004, Casteels was appointed the first Associate-in-Residence (Special Music Projects) by the NUS Centre for the Arts. He initiated, raised funds and executed a series of interdisciplinary projects such as: the Magic of Music in Movies, Music and Architecture, Food, Plants and Music, Music and Birds, Music and Finance, Music and Astronomy and Music and Medicine.


Casteels has conducted more than 50 professional orchestras in a repertoire of 600 works ranging from the early classics to contemporary music, from symphonic to vocal and dance repertoire. He has conducted first performances of symphonic works, ballets and operas in festivals such as: Spoleto Festival, Ars Musica, Brisbane Biennale, Focus, Wien Modern, Donaueschingen and Berlin Biennale. He has premiered significant masterpieces in Singapore, such as works by Boulez, Ligeti, Takemitsu, Stockhausen and Varèse.


A passionate educationist, Casteels is noted for his pedagogical work in piano, analysis, composition and conducting.


Casteels holds music degrees from both Royal Music Conservatories of Brussels, the Guildhall (London) and Juilliard (NY) Schools and The University of Melbourne. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Bruno Walter Scholarship for Orchestral Conducting awarded by the Juilliard School for two consecutive years, as well as the First Prize for contemporary music at the International Conducting Competition of the Hungarian Radio and Television. In 2001, Casteels became the youngest recipient and the second musician ever to receive the prestigious Christoffel Plantin Prize, the Flemish Government’s highest award for cultural achievements, in recognition of his contribution to cross-cultural research.

last updated on 17 Nov 16

Composer, conductor in Singapore with specialty in fusion music

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