The 42nd year of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) concluded an exhilarating three-week run that saw over 150 ticketed and non-ticketed ground-breaking works presented by over 300 game-changing artists from Singapore and around the world.
Commissioned by the National Arts Council and organised by Arts House Limited, this year’s Festival attracted more than 73,000 people to public and ticketed performances, with Festival Director, Gaurav Kripalani, at the helm.
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,” shared 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,” enthused 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,” commented Ng Tian Hui, who also holds the position as Music Director of the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra (USA).
Wrapping up this year’s performance, Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani said, “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.”
As Singapore’s annual pinnacle performing arts festival, the 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 evolution and inspired generations of arts lovers and practitioners. Today, the highly-anticipated annual festival is a high-point on Singapore’s arts and cultural calendar.