From virtual reality tours to jazz concerts, here's a musical guide to SIFA 2021

From virtual reality tours to jazz concerts, here's a musical guide to SIFA 2021

Presented by Singapore International Festival of Arts.

Another year, another exciting round of programmes from Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA).

With every edition, the arts festival has offered a wide and diverse selection of performances, installations, discussions, displays, and more – ranging from musical concerts to thought-provoking exhibitions.

Since 1977, SIFA has become the platform for immersive art experiences for audiences both in and out of Singapore. Across several editions and evolutions, the arts festival has inspired generations of artists and art lovers, having always presented innovative and distinct pieces and encouraged meaningful conversations concerning important world issues. 

This year proves to be no different with over 300 performances and 60 shows featuring dozens of artists and performers from around the world. Spread across three weeks, SIFA 2021 aims to reimagine what it means to be an arts festival in today’s world. 

SIFA 2021 brings an artful festival that seamlessly intertwines live and online programmes. Utilising a spectrum of technology – from text messaging to virtual reality to video conferencing, the three-week festival aims to bring an array of elaborate and unique experiences both in-person and online. 

“This festival has been programmed as a response to everything we’ve been through and the environment we live in now,” says SIFA Festival Director, Gaurav Kripalani in an official statement. “Streaming performances online was what a lot of us had to resort to during lock-down, which is less than ideal. What it did do though was spur my interest in exploring 3D, interactive and responsive technologies in relationship to performance, which I believe will become an integral part of the performing arts going forward.”

SIFA 2021 will also include SIFA On Demand, a video-on-demand feature for select installations running from 31 May to 12 June

This year, all the programmes take on the central theme of "compassion, care, and community". Following a difficult year of lockdowns and social isolation, SIFA aims to celebrate life and connect people together through art and how it proves to be a valuable tool for healing and bridging connections. 

The lineup of events at SIFA 2021 will look to explore varied topics under this year’s theme, including mental health, self-care, sustainable living, climate change, and more. 

SIFA 2021 will be happening from 14 to 30 May, with tickets available for purchase via SIFA’s official website

With over 300 programmes and 60 shows, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. To help you choose, we highlighted some of our favourite music programmes that are definitely worth your attention. Check them out below. 

A Song For Louis

Among the many programmes at SIFA 2021, A Song For Louis is not one to miss. Dedicated to Singaporean jazz legend Louis Soliano, the musical concerts brings together musicians, singers and performers from the local jazz scene for a heart-warming performance dedicated to the musical icon. 

Directed by Joshua Wan and Jeremiah Choy, A Song For Louis features a lineup of talented performers who have worked with and trained under Soliano. Audiences can expect performances from acts like Jeremy Monteiro, Joanna Dong, Rahimah Rahim, Daniel Wong, Don Gomes, and many more. 

“It’s very humbling to see all these gifted musicians, who are stars to me, so readily giving their time and immense talents to do this show. I’m so excited that we can all do what we love doing together, making music for our audience, “ says Soliano. 

“I’ve known all of the artists performing for a long time, and actually spent many years with each of them, some I’ve even watched grow up. We’ve gone beyond being colleagues to being  friends in the deepest  way, so I’m  most  looking  forward  to  the  musical conversations we are going to see in the show.”

A Song For Louis will take place at Victoria Theatre on 14 May with two shows at 6 PM SGT and 9 PM SGT. Tickets for the event are for sale on SIFA’s website and are priced at SGD 58 and SGD 68

The concert will also be available for viewing on 5 to 12 June via SIFA On Demand at SGD 15 for an individual title or SGD 60 for an All-Access bundle of 12.

Demon States

If you’re looking for a unique and innovative art experience then The Observatory’s Demon States is worth attending. Making use of virtual reality technology, the local rock and experimental band is set to virtually take audiences across varied locations inspired by their upcoming music. 

Made in collaboration with Japanese producer Koichi Shimizu, audio-visual artist Brandon Tay, theatre-maker Irfan Kasban, and stage artist Shawn Chua, The Observatory are said to explore the human psyche in an attempt to showcase fear, anxiety, and the turmoils of mental health. 

“This work was borne out of a  time of physical and psychological lockdowns, bearing witness to the fear and anxiety manifesting in our psyche. It is a reflection of our present realities,” says The Observatory, in an official press statement.

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Demon States presents audiences with a reality check to face their inner demons through an immersive mixed reality experience that is said to break hearts and minds. Recommended to be experienced alone, the programme will contain a total of 4 installations happening at The Arts House and the Esplanade, each with a physical and VR aspect. 

The installation will happen from 19 to 30 May with various time and location details. For more information, you can visit SIFA’s official website. Tickets for Demon States are priced at SGD 10 for two installations. 

The Invisible Opera 

With the mundanity of everyday life, the city is the last thing we deem as art; but The Invisible Opera is here to change that. 

Created by Australian artist Sophia Brous in collaboration with award-winning performance makers Lara Thoms and Samara Hersch, and choreographer Faye Driscoll, The Invisible Opera is a contemporary, outdoor music performance. 

Taking on the role of an unseen observer, the performance aims to show the audience the city in a whole new light, focusing on aspects of our environment that we rarely pay attention to. It allows the audience to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics and impact of the space they occupy. 

“The  Invisible  Opera aims to explore what we see and do not see in our public environments. It hopes to prompt discussions about the dynamics of power and access in our public spaces, and who determines what is acceptable, how we act and what we do,” says Brous. 

Premiering for the first time as part of SIFA 2021, The Invisible Opera will be performed entirely remotely from Australia, beamed in from CCTV cameras and hidden microphones that map the movement of a bustling city in real-time. The performance will include immersive sound design, electroacoustic orchestration and live vocal performance.

More information on The Invisible Opera will be unveiled soon via SIFA’s official website.

The Rhythm Of Us

Get ready for an artistic collision between the worlds of dance and music.  The Rhythm Of Us will see a ground-breaking collaborative performance between two of Singapore’s premiere art companies – Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) and Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) on the SIFA stage. 

Taking on three contemporary pieces, the performance is expected to take audiences on a lyrical journey through the wonder of live music and dance. 

“We always try to balance the three pieces in terms of music, qualities of the different works in temperament and overall look plus build in scale as the evening progresses,” says SDT Artistic Director Janek Schergen

The Rhythm Of Us will feature three pieces choreographed by Schergen and Christina Chan, as well as special guest Pam Tanowitz, and performed by cellist Ng Pei Sian, principal dancer Chihiro Uchido, pianist and composer Chok Kerong, and an ensemble of musicians and dancers from SSO and SDT. 

The concert will take place at the Esplanade Theatre from 28 May and 29 May at 8 PM SGT on both days. Tickets for the event are for sale on SIFA’s website and are priced at SGD 78 and SGD 88

The Rhythm Of Us will also be available for viewing on 5 to 12 June via SIFA On Demand at SGD 15 for an individual title or SGD 60 for an All-Access bundle of 12.

SIFA will be happening from 14 to 30 May with a myriad of performances, shows and programmes across 16 days. For those who are unable to attend the festival programmes, audiences will still be able to catch selected shows and screenings through SIFA On Demand, a video-on-demand feature that will run from 31 May to 12 June. 

For more details and the full festival schedule, visit SIFA's official website

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