Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coming Soon in SIFA: CABANONS

I can't believe August is coming to an end! As September is around the corner, it is saddening to see Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) coming into the second half of the festival. How fast time flies! Thankfully, it is not too late to purchase your tickets and be a part of this mammoth festival of arts. While there are many good shows lined up in this edition, I am particularly looking forward to Táng Quartet's Celestial Remnants - no way it will be close to what I saw last week I'm sure. It will be held on the opening of Week 5 of SIFA, and of course, not forgetting CABANONS which will be presented to you arts fanatics next week!

Done by Daniel Buren, Fabien Demyunck, Dan Demuynck, Buren Cirque, we will explore the relationship between the circus and contemporary art in a magical, cutting-edge performance on an art-installation stage.

Three small circus tents, or cabanons , stand in an open field. Designed and erected by spectacular French installation artist Daniel Buren (well known for Les Deux Plateaux art work), the cabanons are in bright primary colours and set up with minimal internal structures, the combined result of which gives spectators a powerful impression of sheer colour and the utter freedom of space.

Here, Buren – who has been making art with stripes since the 1960s (vertical stripes, to be precise: 8.7 cm wide and 8.7 cm apart, over and over) – has turned the circus tent into a singular art object. Sitting in his cabanons is like sitting in an art installation. Think of Aladdin's magic tent! The circus tent, with its audience and artists, becomes an intimate magical artwork constantly transforming with sensory delights.

In each installation, we will witness – in a different order, but at the same time – the vulnerable performances of human individuals overcoming the physical challenges posed by the circus.

Listen to the sounds from the neighbouring cabanon as they waft into your tent, the sounds outside melting into the sounds inside to form an enchanting soundscape. Be emotionally moved by the circus performers, who have to be alive and vulnerable again and again for different audiences. As with Federico Fellini’s legendary film “La Strada”, you will encounter the profound emotions of the circus in CABANONS, where tragedy and joy are intertwined.

CABANONS tickets are available for sale here, and special rates and concessions are available here.

2, 3, 4, 5, 6 September 2015
Open field opposite Bugis Junction @ Tan Quee Lan Street

See you there!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

SIFA: Guts & Steel - Galvanizing Classical Favourites

I have been to many concerts and to patronise Guts and Steel at Singapore International Arts Festival (SIFA) this year thrills me in a way no other concert has done because this would be the first ever classical concert I had attended.

I was especially eager when I got to know that Melvyn Tan and the Táng Quartet decided to channel their indisputable talent at the classy Victoria Concert Hall. An exquisite recital that no music lover should have missed.

It essentially brought us back to 18th and 19th century version of recital from Luigi Boccherini's charming piano quintet to Antonin Dvorak's melodious masterpiece. Simply said, what we had listened in Guts & Steel were the exact same tunes we would hear back in those days.

Back then, the tuning of stringed instruments was not the same as it is today; gut strings - or catguts - produced a different sound from modern strings made of steel or synthetic polymer. It was indeed, a remarkable experience for those who went!

Here's my embarrassing moment when they played a piece from Mozart, and a lesson for all.

Since it was the first time attending a classical concert like this, I had no conscious idea that it is a practice people do not clap after a movement (measurable pauses in between composition). Not to say I was ignorant but I had no idea such unwritten rule even exist!

The thing is, that was not entirely the most embarrassing part because some of them did clap along. It was an audience beside who nudged and whispered "Don't!". I was like... "Oops?" It was only after the concert I read up online that today, it's really normal not to clap! In the days of Mozart, he would have liked it though!

I cringed all the way home thinking how silly I was. What made me feel better was that it happened the second time and was sure it was not me who initiated it! Whew! Well, at least my intention was to give credit for such wonderful performance.

Be sure to catch the upcoming T'ang Quartet's concerts in September! Looking forward to see them!

T’ang Quartet will be presenting two more concerts – Black Angels on 12 September, and Celestial Remnants on 19 September. Black Angels will showcase avant-garde composer George Crumb’s maniacal alchemy of electric string instruments, with glass rods, crystal glasses, tam-tam gongs, against a backdrop of artwork by an acclaim Icelandic artist.

And Celestial Remnants will see the Quartet perform with the Ensemble Dimension Players, a group of young and upcoming string players – some of them still primary school students – whom they mentor as part of the Ensemble Dimension Project.

Remember to book your tickets and mark your calendar!

Ticketing information to Black Angels and Celestial Remnants can be found here and can be purchased here.

Photo credit: Aloysius Lim

Saturday, August 22, 2015

SIFA: Dirtsong - An Express Immersion of Australian Aboriginals

Hello everyone! I was at Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall last evening for Dirtsong presented by Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) it was amazing! I just wish more people had seen the new way of singing country! I had to run a quick errand before attending the show and I was glad to make it on time because Dirtsong is a must-not-miss!

Performed by a group of Aboriginal performers called Black Arm Band, Dirtsong was predominantly done in indigenous languages from across Australia. It brings the past and future together, and celebrates language restoration and cultural survival through songs that maps out the primitive facets of Australia. It was an unusual and clever way of reviving what to many see as irrelevant in modern living.

It resonates closely to our life. Have we ever asked ourselves, what will happen if one day, everything we had ever known becomes irrelevant anymore? When what we know becomes extinct, do we do something to revive it, or go with the flow and be unconnected from the rest. In the Aboriginals' world, there were hundreds of native languages spoken before 1788 and have been irretrievably lost, or are at risk of disappearing. Fortunately, some languages survive and are thriving, while some with a tinge of hope are being recovered, restored and learned anew by their younger generations.

The show re-maps and strengthens these cultural relationship between the race and their language, feeding back into the larger project of language revival in Australia. Many of the songs are newly commissioned not only to reinforce or affirm its culture, but actively creating it.

Which is why I think this is one of the best shows for cultural immersion! Australia is huge and the Aboriginal life is one visitors should explore and experience first hand.

Two of my favourite numbers are Rainstorm which is sung in the language from the southern end of Kakadu National Park - Gundjeihmi, which is still spoken fluently all over the region. I find it to be profoundly soulful.

The second one is Coming Up Close Now, which illustrates the spirit of the Wongi word GrunGada (gathering) from the Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie regions of Western Australia. The sounds of didgeridoo was well jazzed up by the sultry tunes of the saxophone.

Dirtsong all in all brings out the enchanting side of Australia, showing how Aboriginals are being forward and progressive through their blend of music and technicolor presentation. Well done Black Arm Band!

I would strongly recommend you to catch their last show tonight, 22 August! Enjoy their timbre and harmonious voices, while immersing yourself with a widespread buffet of Aboriginal culture.

Ticketing information can be found herepromotions available can be found here and tickets can be purchased here.

20, 21, 22 August, 8pm
Victoria Theatre

Photo credit: Kevin Lee

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Coming Soon in SIFA: dirtsong

I have never been to Australia, and I hope to be there one day. Not only to enjoy my time but to share with all of you the finest things in life. For now, Australian music is closest I can get to the land down under.

So grateful that SIFA will be presenting dirtsong!

Inspired by the words of Alexis Wright, winner of Australia’s prestigious Miles Franklin Award, dirtsong will take us on a powerful musical journey of pop, blues, R&B, soul and jazz through Australia’s cultural heartland. This performance will move your heart and lift your spirit!

Set against a backdrop of stunning moving images and text, dirtsong features unforgettable songs performed in 11 different Aboriginal languages by some of Australia’s most extraordinary performers, backed by an exciting ensemble of the country’s finest musicians!

In exploring the connections between people, language and land, dirtsong draws a map of Australia in music – a map that charts the cultural and linguistic diversity of the country. dirtsong does not simply reinforce or affirm cultures and traditions; it also actively creates them. Many of the songs featured in dirtsong are new commissions.

dirtsong features the talents of Black Arm Band, a collective of renowned Indigenous singers, musicians, performers and actors from across Australia, and is dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the very best of contemporary Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music, culture, experience and identity.

Check out the trailer and listen to the fusion of mellow and epic tunes! Nothing beats learning new cultures through beautifully composed music! Join me if you would this coming 20th August for dirtsong, it would be lovely to enjoy the performance with all of you! Otherwise, you can always opt for the one on 21st or 22nd August!

Ticketing information can be found herepromotions available can be found here and tickets can be purchased here.

20, 21, 22 August, 8pm
Victoria Theatre

Photo and video credit: Singapore International Film Festival (SIFA)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Agrobazaar - The Finest from Malaysia's Agronomy

Hey everyone!

It's been more than a month since I talked about food. There are so many places to eat today yet so little time! I was so elated to be at Agrobazaar to try out their finest delicacies!

I was so excited to be there to meet new friends and explore what Agrobazaar has got to offer. The visit started off with an introduction on what Agrobazaar is all about.

Agrobazaar Malaysia @ Singapore is your one stop for shopping, dining and chilling out with friends, family and loved ones. Not only it is a bustling hub of promotion solely for Malaysian grown and produced goods, they also have a cafe - KopieSatu and a restaurant - The Verandah, which served the most authentic and fresh tasting Malaysian food and beverage possible outside of Malaysia.

In its home country Malaysia, it is famous amongst locals and tourists for the finely processed and fresh products, perfect for gifts to bring back home.

Located on the first level of Agrobazaar Malaysia @ Singapore, the KopieSatu, or commonly known as KopieSatu Cafe, serves great gourmet coffee with a nice and cozy ambience, equipped with free Wi-Fi for its customers to enjoy their coffee and hanging around with their friend or families. KopieSatu Cafe also serves as a favorite place to hold meetings, appointments or discussion while enjoying the various types of coffee and desserts such as Ice Blended Caramel Coffee, Cafe Latte, Rainbow Durian Cake and Chendol.

We were treated to a show on how a cup of coffee is made at their KopieSatu Cafe and we got to learn how shapes are done on a cup of coffee. Not as easy as it seems!

After the tour, we were ushered up to The Verandah for the subsequent segment - fruit carving! One of the many exciting parts that I was looking forward to.

The chef showed up with a carving knife and a watermelon. He then demonstrated to us how we can carve flowers on the watermelon. It was done so earnestly! Just look at the design!

Then came our turn! We were divided into a group of five. My team and I came together and tried to brainstorm for something. We had no idea at all! The game did not allow us to carve flowers (it's not that we know how to anyway!) and since National Day had just ended, the SG50 vibe remains strong.

We carved something that we were sure would touch everyone's heart! Tension was escalating but we tried our best! Unfortunately, an accident happened.

One of our team members cut her hand. We had a one man down situation. We pressed on. It was one of the toughest moments in our lives. It was a mess!

Despite being shorthanded, we are proud of what we did. For beginners, I think it's beautiful!

Here are some other designs done by the rest of our friends!

Here's my squad and our masterpiece!

Agrobazaar is definitely convenient for those who are on transit in Singapore and do not have the time to travel north to the nearest state in Malaysia - Johor. Here, you can get prime Malaysian products like exotic honey and try out the best picked durian at their cafe.

Amazing thing their durians are kept in a huge fridge, sorted by grades.

The Verandah amazingly offers both indoor and alfresco dining. The restaurant serves authentic popular Malaysian food such as Penang Asam Laksa, Mee Bandung Muar and Ayam Percik Terengganu, just to name a few. From time to time, the restaurant will also bring and introduce a lot more of Malaysian food. With the experienced kitchen staff spearheaded by an experienced Chef Razif, you can be sure to have a great dining experience at The Verandah!

No kidding that The Verandah is a popular event spot for high flyer clubs like the Bentley Owners Club that organizes durian fiesta. Why not? It's so convenient to get there and it is located right beside an open carpark, which makes monitoring of your expensive car all the more convenient. You can do that from the rooftop!

Oh here's a funny highlight!

The subsequent segment of the program was to learn how to make teh tarik and I got the honor to try it out! It was not easy! After doing a few for the audience, I don't think teh tarik should cost that cheap anymore. It takes a lot of effort to master the art of not spilling it!

So there I was, shamelessly made teh tarik for everyone!

Who says I don't know how to do things in the kitchen? See, I pulled a stunt! I can't probably do it without the barista's help though. It pays to pay attention in class even if the lesson is as short as making coffee!

The wonderful event ended with selecting the winner for the fruit design and teh tarik performance. We had to explain our design and I hope it resonates and strike the chord in everyone there! How can it not be?

The swan is the symbol of Singapore's transformation from being a third-world to first, just like how ugly duckling transformed into a beautiful swan. The ribbon is to commemorate the passing of our former Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kwan Yew, and the carriage we designed carries the weight and hopes of everyone in Singapore. Oh! And blood was literally shed while putting up this grand masterpiece (because our friend cut her hand by accident...)

It was a coincident epitomisation of our city state for sure.

The blood shed was worthwhile. We won first place in the fruit carving competition!

We would like to thank the judges and everyone who gave your support! No gathering concludes without a monumental group photo - with a spiky durian!

Thank you The Influencer Network for the wonderful invite. It's really wonderful of you to host this! To more ahead!

Agrobazaar is having a promotion this SG50 season. Get 20% discount for all cakes and drinks from KopieSatu with a minimum purchase of a cake and a drink. Great way to end your work - with a good drink and a nice cake! Promotion ends on 31 December 2015.

Word has it their rainbow durian is delicious. Have a bite!

Agrobazaar Malaysia @ Singapore
Lot 37 – 43, Sultan Gate
Singapore 198485
Telephone: +65 5391 9841