- Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA 2019) comes to a successful end with the Festival Closing Concert that featured the return of three renowned local artists
- The Festival, which showcased more than 150 ticketed and non-ticketed programs with over 300 artists involved, garnered a strong attendance of more than 73,000 people over its three-week run
- SIFA 2020 returns from 15 to 31 May 2020
SINGAPORE, 10 June 2019 – The 42nd year of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA 2019) helmed by Festival Director, Gaurav Kripalani (2018 – 2020) closes with the Festival Closing Concert, presented by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and world-renowned local artists. This marks the end to an exciting three weeks of ground-breaking works presented by game-changing artists from Singapore and around the world. Commissioned by the National Arts Council and organised by Arts House Limited, the Festival attracted more than 73,000 people to public and ticketed performances.
The opening weekend saw four headlining acts – Dionysus, The Mysterious Lai Teck, Beware of Pity and Peter and the Wolf, as well as two free outdoor programmes for the public, We Can Dance and De Relaxerette. On the final day, the festival closed with a celebratory concert at the Singapore Botanic Gardens with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, featuring leading local vocalists Elena Wang, Julia Abueva and Sean Ghazi.
Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani says: “I believe we are making great headway in what we have set out to achieve, which is to provide a holistic experience for all audiences, whether they are arts aficionados or first-time festival goers. It is encouraging to see that the curation of programmes for SIFA 2019 across multiple venues in the city has allowed us to successfully reach diverse communities, and that many are taking a step out of their comfort zones to explore genre-defying works and broaden their horizons.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF SIFA 2019
This year’s festival saw over 150 programmes, events and workshops presented by game-changing artists at the pinnacle of their profession, of which were many firsts for Singapore.
Alongside the Singapore debut of three luminaries of the performing arts world – music powerhouses Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Frisell, and renowned choreographer Sasha Waltz – it was also the first time Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT) and Purnati Indonesia showcased their rendition of Dionysus, coupled with a workshop on the Suzuki Method of Acting by Kameron Steel of SCOT, within the setting of an international festival.
“The workshop was enjoyable and Kameron was a great teacher. He guided us through some basic exercises which offered us a glimpse into the rigour and discipline that actors studying this methodology need to possess for their training,” shares Eleanor Ee, participant of Suzuki Method workshop.
This edition also featured the first family-friendly play under Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani’s tenure, Peter and the Wolf by Silo Theatre.
“Peter and the Wolf was absolutely entertaining. The intricate movement of the puppets really brought the story to life. At the same time, it also gave Callum the freedom to let his imagination run wild. This was Callum’s first theatre experience and our first time attending SIFA, which we thoroughly enjoyed,” enthuses Nadia Chan, mother of a 5-year-old son.
Sold out shows included a mix of international productions and local commissions, including Ryuichi Sakamoto – Fragments, the intimate concert featuring Japanese artists Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shiro Takatani, thrilling murder mystery cum virtual reality experience Frogman, and unique storytelling experience Bedtime Stories by Thomas Dudkiewicz. From the local scene, Impulse by up-and-coming Singapore group Varsha and Oreste by Ifigenia, by Tan Shou Chen and American Prize-winning conductor Ng Tian Hui in response to George Frideric Handel’s opera, Oreste, were also well-loved by the crowd.
“There is a renewed energy in the local opera scene as many artists, including myself, have returned from overseas stints with a strong desire to create operatic works on home ground. SIFA has presented a timely opportunity for us to bring an interpretation of a classic work to Singapore audiences who are thirsty for early music. With Oreste by Ifigenia being a SIFA first for opera, we are excited to see more people grow to appreciate this genre of art,” comments Ng, who also holds the position as Music Director of the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra (USA).
This year’s SIFA commissions welcomed original productions by acclaimed Singapore visual artist Ho Tzu Nyen with The Mysterious Lai Teck, painting the portrait of one of Southeast Asia’s most shadowy historical figures, in an inventive staging that featured an animatronic puppet, visual projections and theatrical drapes. It also featured Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner by Checkpoint Theatre’s Huzir Sulaiman – a multi-disciplinary play set against the backdrop of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
"I've always seen SIFA as a chance for Singapore artists to do their best work because you’re measured against the best in the international scene. It gives you the resources and the platform to rise to that challenge and that’s really exciting for artists. We're glad to have been given the opportunity to work on Displaced Persons' Welcome Dinner these past two years and are very pleased with the overwhelming acclaim it garnered," says Huzir, co-founder and Joint Artistic Director of Checkpoint Theatre and playwright of Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner.
Sarah Martin, CEO of Arts House Limited elaborates, “SIFA as a brand is growing from strength to strength -- we have received heartening support from all our stakeholders including the audience, media and the artistic community. There is more talkability about the festival, with discussions and debate surrounding the art and programming of SIFA. We see a higher attendance level for the festival, which affirms the appeal of the diverse programme we sought to curate. We also see a great interest from the artistic community coming to SIFA to present their plans and ideas which demonstrates a greater buy-in. We would like to thank Gaurav and the Producers behind SIFA for their great efforts in designing a vibrant and triumphant festival celebrating arts in its multiple dimensions.”
Low Eng Teong, Assistant CEO (Sector Development), National Arts Council, says, “This year’s SIFA commissions continue to underscore the depth and strength of Singapore’s leading performing arts companies. Productions like Toy Factory’s A Dream Under The Southern Bough, a bold staging of a Chinese classic for a modern audience, and Checkpoint Theatre’s Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner, a notable work developed over two years, are testament to the potential of Singapore theatre. The positive reception to these works will surely encourage these companies and others to keep presenting exciting works that enrich Singapore’s cultural landscape and inspire future generations of art lovers and supporters.”
SIFA will be back in 2020 from 15 to 31 May 2020.
About the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2019 (SIFA 2019)
As Singapore’s annual pinnacle performing arts festival, the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) presents captivating and diverse works across theatre, music, dance, film and visual arts. First launched as the Singapore Festival of Arts in 1977, the festival has gone through several evolutions and inspired generations of arts lovers and practitioners. Today, the highly-anticipated festival is a high-point on Singapore’s arts and cultural calendar.
Under the helm of Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani from 2018–2020, SIFA continues its festival mission to champion the creation and presentation of Singaporean and international works. At SIFA 2019, The Arts House will once again be transformed into the Festival House. With meaningful engagement opportunities from artists talks, workshops, discussions and the festival bar—House Pour, the Festival House breaks down the walls between artists and audiences to create unique experiences and inspiring artistic encounters.
About Arts House Limited
Arts House Limited (AHL) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to enriching lives through the arts. AHL manages two key landmarks located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District – The Arts House, a multi-disciplinary arts centre with a focus on literary programming, and the Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, a heritage building that is home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. It also runs the Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre, two creative enclaves for artists, arts groups and creative businesses, and performing arts space Drama Centre. AHL presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the annual pinnacle celebration of performance and interdisciplinary arts in Singapore commissioned by the National Arts Council.
AHL was set up in 11 Dec 2002 as a company limited by guarantee (CLG) under the National Arts Council and was formerly known as The Old Parliament House Limited. It was officially renamed Arts House Limited on 19 Mar 2014.
About the National Arts Council
The National Arts Council champions the arts in Singapore. By nurturing creative excellence and supporting broad audience engagement, our diverse and distinctive arts inspire our people, connect communities and profile Singapore internationally. We preserve our rich, cultural traditions as we cultivate accomplished artists and vibrant companies for the future. Our support for the arts is comprehensive – from grants and partnerships to industry facilitation and arts housing. The Council welcomes greater private and corporate giving to and through the arts, so that together we can make the arts an integral part of everyone’s lives. For more information on the Council’s mission and plans, please visit www.nac.gov.sg.
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