MAJ (Ret) Ervin E. Dragon, one of Singapore’s best pianists, has music in his veins. Born into a musically inclined family, he pursued his love for music when he entered the Singapore Police Force Band. There, he was awarded the Colombo Plan Scholarship for the Bandmaster’s Course in Australia in 1969. Shortly after his return, he took up the appointment of Director of Music in the Singapore Armed Force’s (SAF) band and continued on for the next two decades as Director of Music spanning across the Singapore Armored Regiment Band and the Republic of Singapore Air Force Band. He has also held appointments as the Senior Director of Music for the three services’ bands (army, navy and air force) in the SAF and was Chairman of Bands for the National Day Parades from 1978 till his retirement in 1991.
Highlights in his illustrious uniformed career include coordinating the first ever Combined Military Tattoo with the six ASEAN bands – consisting of over 500 musicians – at the SAF’s Silver Jubilee. The band performed an ASEAN tune Major Dragon had specially arranged and that thereafter gained recognition and admiration not only from the audience and participants, but also from the then Chief of Defense Force.
Another high point in his 22-year career in the SAF was performing alongside the legendary New York Philharmonic Orchestra, led by the famous conductor Zubin Mehta, for Singapore’s National Day Celebrations in 1989.
During his long service with the SAF, Major Dragon composed and conducted some 12 regimental, quick and slow marches, as well as many more special arrangements of music that were showcased during National Day Parades. The SAF body still marches to his compositions today at various parades and ceremonies. ‘Our Defenders’ is a composition still played for the SAF Colors to march in during special occasions like the SAF Day, National Day Parade, and ‘Trooping of the Colors’.
In recognition of his sterling achievements and outstanding service, Major Dragon has been decorated with eight awards including the National Day Public Administration Medal (PPA) in 1981, and the Long Service Medal award – 22 years (PBS) in 1991. Both of these awards were presented to him by the then Presidents of the Republic of Singapore. The Chief of Army also presented Major Dragon with the SAF Long and Outstanding Service Tour Award in 1990.
Upon his retirement in 1991, Major Dragon has gone on to be a popular musician hired for private and company functions. He was also the resident pianist at some of Singapore’s premier establishments including the Raffles Hotel and exclusive The Tower Club, garnering a legion of fans for his extensive and unique repertoire of jazz and popular pieces on the piano.
At the same time, he has been offering his extensive experience as a respected musician to private individuals who are keen to learn from him. To cater to his varied clientele – locals and expatriates, young and old – Major Dragon writes the syllabus and program for his students, giving them a customized learning experience to suit their aptitude and taste in music, and bring out the musical best in each of them.