Time for Singapore talent to shine

For the first time, the arts venue will be presenting a four-day festival filled solely with Singaporean performances and artists, since the first production was presented at the Esplanade on Oct 11, 2002.

The fest, titled Dedicated To You, marks the Esplanade's 10th anniversary, and it will see a total of 11 specially commissioned works in a variety of genres.

The shows - which include a Chinese pop-music concert featuring Tanya Chua, a tribute to the late Zubir Said (who wrote Singapore's National Anthem) and a concert of Tamil movie songs - will bring together big names on the arts scene.

Mr JP Nathan, director of programming for the Esplanade, said that the time is ripe for a full festival of home-grown performances. Singaporeans, he said, are more sure of themselves than ever.

"There's a sense of newfound confidence in people, and about who we are and what we're doing," he said in a media briefing. He added that the Esplanade's objective is to help instil a sense of pride in Singapore's arts practitioners, for how far they've come over the years.

The arts venue also hopes to inspire in audience members a sense of appreciation for the arts scene as a whole.

The fest will kick off on Oct 11 with Constellation, a concert that sees Singapore's stars in Western classical music - from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra to conductor Lan Shui and violinist Kam Ning - come together to present a show at the Concert Hall.

The following day, The National Broadway Company - which will celebrate the songs and personalities of the musical scene here - opens.

Helmed by TheatreWorks director Ong Keng Sen, and with a script based on interviews with the likes of Michael Chiang (Army Daze), the show will feature songs from well-loved musicals like Beauty World and Forbidden City, and is planned as a tribute to musical stars such as Jacintha Abishegenaden.

Those who love Chinese music shouldn't miss Our Songs From The Heart, which will feature music by home-grown composers, including Cultural Medallion recipient Liang Wern Fook and Eric Ng. It will star Tanya Chua, Joi Chua, Kelly Poon and Kelvin Tan.

Mr Nathan noted that, today, the arts scene is vastly different from what it was 10 years ago and that, generally, people think that the arts are worth celebrating.

"(Ten years ago), people thought that the arts were for a select few," he said. "These days, there's a sense that the arts are part of the conversation. Or, at least, that the arts are worthy of conversation."

Tickets, which start at an affordable $10, will go on sale next Friday. Also watch for free events as part of the fest.

The Esplanade is also spearheading an ambitious online project - a website called tribute.sg.

The website will be an archive of sorts, and will provide profiles of arts practitioners, educators and patrons, "people who have made significant contributions" over the years, said Mr Nathan.

The website will include interviews, audio clips and samples of paintings, said Mr Nathan. The public will also be invited to "nominate" those who they think are worthy of being profiled.

The site will go live on Oct 12.

Tickets to Dedicated To You go on sale next Friday at www.esplanade.com. As the commissioned works get pulled together, the public can track their progress and see interviews with the stars on www.facebook.com/ celebratinglife2012 and www.celebratinglife.com.sg

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