Take a spiritual retreat

Take a spiritual retreat
The Divana Ensemble from Rajasthan will perform at the Esplanade's music festival, A Tapestry Of Sacred Music 2014.

Imagine a music festival where quiet contemplation and spiritual ecstasy can be had for the price of a ticket or even for free as Buddhist sutras or Sufi melodies are chanted by the waterfront.

Since 2009, the Esplanade's A Tapestry Of Sacred Music has been that event. The three-day festival returns next month with four ticketed shows and more than 40 free events.

Among the headliners are India's globe-trotting music group the Divana Ensemble - its members come from renowned Manganiyar families whose music is rooted in the spiritual traditions of Rajasthan - and traditional American balladeer Tim Eriksen, whose many credits include his music contribution to director Anthony Minghella's Oscar-winning movie Cold Mountain (2003).

Mr Tan Xianghui, 30, programming officer of the Esplanade, says the idea behind Tapestry, launched in the shadow of the 2008 global financial crisis, is to "showcase the rich heritage of sacred music from around the world, all to be enjoyed as cultural expression in a secular setting".

He explains that the hope at the time was that "this new festival, featuring music that tries to reach beyond the mundane and material, would refresh us as individuals and rejuvenate us as a community".

Over the years, the festival has won itself a following. The Esplanade declines to reveal attendance figures, but music reviewers and festivalgoers Life! spoke to gave Tapestry the thumbs up.

Dr Chang Tou Liang, 48, a physician in private practice who reviews classical music for Life!, lauds the organisers for bringing in a diversity of highquality acts.

He says that throughout history, religion has had an indelible impact on music.

He says: "All great cultures evolved with the religions that they are based on. Without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Vatican, no Sistine Chapel, no Allegri's Miserere and no tradition of the great music associated with the liturgical masses.

"The same applies to Eastern and Asian religions. Even if you do not believe in any religion, you can still be touched by the wealth of art, culture and music that it has inspired."

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