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Streisand Sings, Purling Swings plus “The Way We Were”


The renowned Kym Purling Trio interprets the music of Barbara Streisand, followed by the 50th anniversary screening of “The Way We Were.”

Considered one of the great romantic films of all time, The Way We Were celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. What better way to mark the occasion than to present one of South Australia’s biggest musical exports, world renowned and world class pianist Kym Purling, to interpret the music of the movie’s star, Barbara Streisand. Purling has returned to Australia following almost three decades based in New York and Paris. He has established himself internationally, performing in more than 140 countries around the world alongside many stars such as Engelbert Humperdinck and Natalie Cole. He has conducted several Broadway shows and has made significant contributions in the worlds of jazz and musical theatre. We are excited to invite you to this special performance to experience Purling’s renditions of our favourite Streisand songs before the screening of The Way We Were.






Kym Purling was born in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), two and a half years before the end of the Vietnam War. The exact date of his birth is unknown. Knowledge of the identity of Purling’s birthparents is also unknown. Purling was found abandoned as a baby at only a few days old and was then briefly hospitalized before being placed in an orphanage in Saigon, where the director of the orphanage gave him the name Vu Tien Quyen. (Note: In Vietnam, Vu is the family name and the given name Quyen, means bird. The middle name Tien, can mean sky, heaven, spirit or angel but can also mean to move forward, improve or develop in the way of power and human rights).

Soon after, Purling was placed in a second orphanage run by World Vision, called the New Life Babies Home. While receiving vaccinations, he received an alias name, David Hùng. (Note: This name was given to him by the nurses in order to confuse and cast away the evil spirits so that Purling would return to good health). Meanwhile, a South Australian couple, (soon to be Kym’s adoptive parents), had already spent two long years battling ‘red tape’ and lobbying governments and aid agencies to demonstrate their protest to the war in Vietnam and to adopt an orphaned Vietnamese baby. With the help of an Australian matron at the home, Purling was finally adopted at the age of nine months, becoming the first international adoption of any nationality in Australia. He was renamed Kym, an Asian and western name, to make it easier for his Australian family and friends to pronounce. His middle name, David, was chosen not only in reference to his new adoptive father’s name but also because of the alias name, David Hung’, which he was given while hospitalized in Vietnam.

Purling, along with three other babies and a fourteen year old Vietnamese girl, were secretly airlifted from Vietnam to Melbourne (Australia), where Mrs. Judith Purling and three other anxious mothers awaited the arrival of the orphans. The thirteen year old girl was the first to exit the plane to be reunited with her sister that she had not seen in two years. Her exit served as a diversion to the awaiting media while Purling and the other babies departed through the back door of the plane into the arms of their new mothers. (Note: Purling has since reunited with the matron in the home in Saigon, and with the fourteen year old Vietnamese girl and the three other babies. Interestingly, now in their adult lives, all four are involved in music either professionally or semi-professionally. (See the first of two 60 Minutes television specials on YouTube and national Australian newspaper article, “Orphans Of ‘Nam Reunite”).


Kym Purling’s musical life began at the age of five. Purling’s eldest sister was studying classical piano and Purling would observe his sister practicing then mimic the songs she was practicing , instantly by ear. At the age of six, he began formal classical piano training. He continued classical studies throughout primary school and high school while teaching himself to play various other styles of music. Purling played trumpet and various percussion instruments through his schooling life and toured to Malaysia at the age of fourteen playing trumpet. Purling was raised in the church, (Purling’s father and sister are both Christian ministers of religion), which also provided him the opportunity at a young age to play from lead sheets and/or without music, a foundation towards playing jazz, a music which Purling would later fall in love with and eventually carve a career from.


Purling began working semi-professionally as a pianist during his teens and was also teaching, accompanying and playing for several national Australian dance companies such as the internationally acclaimed, Meryl Tankard’s Australian Dance Theatre. During these years, Kym also engaged in some acting and film work. He had a major role in a documentary film, “Moving Up” and also acted in a feature film titled, Sebastian and the Sparrow, by filmmaker Scott Hicks, director of Shine and Snow Falling On Cedars.

Purling later earned a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at the University of Adelaide (Australia), a step that that would put him on a new but certain direction. He began working extensively as a jazz pianist in

Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne with his own trio, which also served as a rhythm section for many leading Australian vocalists and instrumentalists. He engaged in studio session work for radio and television commercials, performed regularly at local and national establishments and appeared at many music, arts and jazz festivals.

During the early nineties, Purling also worked extensively in the corporate sector, making 200-250 performances each year. Purling has performed with many national and international artists such as The Mills Brothers, Kay Starr, Buddy Greco, The Pied Pipers, Clint Holmes, Carl Fontana, David Cassidy, Marlena Shaw, Joe Williams and Frank Sinatra Jr. Purling has also toured internationally and made national television performances in the U.S. with vocal legends, Natalie Cole and Engelbert Humperdinck. He has shared the stage with many other artists such as Julio Iglesias, Arturo Sandoval, There Might Be Giants, Sandra Bernhardt, Harry Connick, Jr., James Morrison and the Ray Brown Trio. He has also musical-directed for a vocalist with Wayne Newton and was also offered the position as pianist and musical director for stage and film legend, Mickey Rooney. Purling has recorded several compact disc albums under his own name and appeared as a sideman on countless albums in Australia, the U.S. and Asia. At the age of just 24, following his second nomination, Purling was presented the award for the Most Outstanding Keyboard Player of the Year at the South Australian Music Industry Awards. Soon after, he declined an offer to teach at the University of Adelaide after being offered a position as an Ambassador for the Performing Arts, between Australia and Vietnam. During the ambassadorship, (the first time Purling had returned to his homeland since being adopted), he performed and taught music with Vietnamese children, students, adults and professional musicians, while also making solo recordings for educational purposes. He performed sold out concerts in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and spent a large amount of his time writing arrangements, teaching and performing with The Saigon Jazz Band, a project that he created with the famous Vietnamese vocalist, Tuyet Loan, a woman who frequently performed in the G.I. camps during the Vietnam War and is a household name in Vietnam.

While in Ho Chi Minh City, Purling’s hotel room often became an unplanned teaching studio due to the young and enthusiastic Vietnamese who were interested in jazz and had discovered where Purling was residing. Many times they appeared unannounced at his hotel room door, introducing themselves and requesting instruction in jazz improvisation. During the ambassadorship, Purling also formed vital administrative, musical and personal connections between the two countries. He also appeared in many newspapers and on many radio stations during the residency. Purling’s performances were the first non- classical or traditional music concerts ever held at the Ho Chi Minh City Conservatory of Music, (Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh Nhac Vien). Purling was also offered a teaching position at the Conservatory of Music but declined the offer due to commitments awaiting him back in Australia.

Interestingly, five years later, a Vietnamese woman had discovered one of the many Vietnamese newspaper articles that featured Purling and claimed that he was her biological son. She was not Purling’s biological mother.

Purling then returned to Australia before touring to London, Amsterdam and Den Haag where he performed each day at The North Sea Jazz Festival, the world’s largest indoor jazz festival boasting an audience of 85,000 people. On completion of the tour, he moved to the United States and completed a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. During this time, Purling taught on the university faculty while performing extensively in almost every Las Vegas showroom, concert venue and hotel and casino. He quickly a network for himself in Las Vegas and used his contacts in

Australia to personally organize and lead an international tour to Australia for the 19 member UNLV Big Band. (See second of two 60 Minutes TV Special on YouTube). The tour was very successful, impressing Australian jazz fans, critics and musicians with his American fellow musicians and the reunion performances he made with his former Australian trio. (Funding for the tour was provided in part by U.S. comedian Drew Carey).

Purling returned to Las Vegas to continue his teaching and performing before touring to Scotland to perform with a U.S. jazz quintet. The group performed nightly for two weeks at the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival, receiving notable reviews from various Scottish newspapers. By 2000, Purling had established his own following in Las Vegas. He created this audience through his varied performances at many of the new resorts that had opened since he had moved there. Purling was one of the first musicians to perform at The Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, The Aladdin and the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, where he performed with his Las Vegas Trio on the eve of January 01, 2000 as fireworks sprinkled down past its windows and the clock ticked over into the new millennium.

Purling later returned and toured again to Australia to present some reunion performances with his former Australian trio. Soon after his return to the United States, he relocated to New York City after being offered the position of musical-director and conductor for the U.S. National Tour of Footloose the Musical, a traveling Broadway show from New York City. With Footloose, Purling traveled to 247 cities in just eleven months. Whilst on the road with Footloose, Purling was also commissioned to compose the score for a new musical that premiered in Chicago later that year. He composed and wrote the music on a small keyboard and laptop while touring on buses and planes around the U.S. At the conclusion of the Footloose tour in Springfield, Illinois, Purling drove to Chicago the next night and watched his musical score being performed on stage by singers, actors and dancers he had never met before. Purling then returned to his performances in Las Vegas and began working on his own original musical and other long-term projects.

Soon after, Purling was hired for the 2002-2004 U.S. & Canadian national tours of the acclaimed Broadway musical, Miss Saigon. Purling made the decision to travel with the show not only to discover more of North America and Canada, but because of the many parallels between the story of Miss Saigon and his own life. Due to Purling’s personal connection to the show and the work achieved in his own career, Purling received an incredible and overwhelming amount of media interest and attention from newspapers and radio and televisions stations all across the United States and Canada. (Many of these newspaper articles, radio interviews and television clips can be found in the Portfolio and Film & Television sections at www.kympurling.com and on YouTube).

The U.S. tour of Miss Saigon continued for a further two years, however, Purling left the show partway through after being appointed as musical director and conductor for the Japanese and North American tours of the acclaimed Broadway musical, 42nd Street. Purling particularly enjoyed Japan because after conducting his show each night, he would seek out the many small jazz clubs hidden around Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto and play with the local Japanese jazz musicians until the early hours of the morning.

Purling later returned to Australia to headline a concert with David Helfgott, the acclaimed classical pianist and subject of the motion picture, Shine. He also performed a series of jazz concerts and workshops throughout Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Purling later relocated to Florida and continued to perform locally, nationally and internationally. In Florida, he formed another trio, recording albums and performing concerts around the U.S. He has engaged in regular national television work, including a one-hour television special with Natalie Cole, the daughter of legendary singer, Nat ‘King’ Cole. Purling then continued to travel the world as musical director, conductor and pianist for vocal legend, Engelbert Humperdinck. During the two year period with Humperdinck, Purling performed in most of the world’s most prestigious concert halls and largest outdoor arenas around the world.

Following the appointment with Engelbert Humperdinck, Purling resided in Los Angeles for a short time, performing regularly in Beverley Hills and around Los Angeles with many of the city’s best jazz musicians. He also worked steadily at Henson Studios playing on television commercials for Hyundai and many other companies.

Purling then began to split his time between New York and Paris, realizing that he needed a European base when beginning another new chapter as a fly-on headline artist, performing his own shows with a seven piece band in the 500-1500 seat theaters on the world’s most luxurious cruise lines. Purling continues to partner his passion for international travel and performing by flying to the fleets of thirteen of the world’s best cruise lines. Purling has now traveled to 144 countries and continues to work from the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia.

Purling is an active humanitarian and has made numerous performances for charity, providing funds to aid his various humanitarian projects, primarily assisting orphans and children in Vietnam and Nepal. He has given concerts and sourced funding to feed 2000 children in Nepal and later another concert to provide funds following the catastrophic earthquakes in Nepal in 2015. In 2019, Purling gave another concert to aid The Sunrise Children’s Association, an organization based in Adelaide, South Australia which reunites Nepalese orphans and trafficked children with their families and assists them to create a living for themselves. Purling has and continues to donate his talents and services offering concerts to raise funds for several past and ongoing charities such as the Australian Cranial Facial Foundation, The Variety Club of South Australia, The Global Action Coalition (Florida-Nepal), Hands For Hope (Vietnam) and several other humanitarian charities.