Singapore arts crosses Causeway

It has been a big year for Singapore in terms of showcasing its entertainers and artists overseas.

To mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Malaysia, a three-month cultural showcase will be held in Kuala Lumpur, featuring almost 400 participants from various art forms, including music, theatre, dance and film.

Titian Budaya, which means "cultural bridge" in Malay, will be held at different venues in Malaysia's capital from Nov 21 to Jan 17 next year.

About 150 Malaysian participants will also perform in the showcase, presented by Singapore's Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and supported by Malaysia's Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

Titian Budaya comes on the heels of other international showings of Singapore artists such as Singapore: Inside Out - organised by the Singapore Tourism Board in Beijing, London and New York; the Singapore Festival in France organised by Singapore's National Heritage Board with the National Arts Council and France's Institut Francais; as well as Something To Write Home About, an independent showcase of Singapore artists in New York.

Titian Budaya Night is one of the highlights of the Kuala Lumpur showcase. It will see the likes of jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro and former Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah joining the Singapore Chinese Orchestra to perform works by well-known Malaysian and Singaporean composers.

The concert, held on Dec 8 at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, will also celebrate the music of legendary actor-director P. Ramlee, with a medley of songs re-arranged by Singapore-based British composer Eric Watson.

There will also be a wayang kulit (shadow puppetry) performance based on the play The Silly Little Girl And The Funny Old Tree by pioneer dramatist Kuo Pao Kun.

Spilling into next year, the first Singapore Film Festival in Malaysia from Jan 14 to 17 will close the showcase, with screenings at 1 Utama Petaling Jaya and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

The festival will highlight 10 breakthrough post-Independence Singaporean films, including works by Eric Khoo, Jack Neo and Royston Tan. The well-received short film anthology 7 Letters will open the festival.

Private impresario CultureLink Singapore was commissioned by MCCY to conceptualise and produce the event.

Its executive and artistic director, Ms Goh Ching Lee, says that in the process of working with artists from both countries, "it is also heartening to discover that many among them live, work and create across both sides of the Causeway, proving that art has no borders, and that they regard both Singapore and Malaysia as their creative and inspirational homes".

"While we sought to pay homage to recognised cultural icons and traditions of both countries, we also wanted to introduce Singapore works and artists that have not been encountered in Malaysia," she adds.

Mr Yeo Whee Jim, senior director of the arts and heritage division at MCCY, says: "With this year's Titian Budaya, we are looking forward to sharing with our Malaysian friends a diverse cultural programme, featuring collaborations between Singaporean and Malaysian artists and cultural partners. In the process, I hope the performers and artists will also find new friendships and strengthen existing ones."

Singaporean singer-songwriter Charlie Lim, who will be playing alongside Malaysian indie artist Liyana Fizi on Nov 21 and 22 at an event called Music Live Next Door at Publika Shopping Gallery, says: "I'm so excited to be a part of this celebration of friendship in Titian Budaya which allows my music to contribute to this idea of bridging cultures."

Fizi mirrors his sentiments, saying: "I hope to give a memorable performance to mark this important milestone between our two nations, and look forward to collaborating with my friend and fellow musician Charlie Lim."

This article was first published on October 5, 2015.
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