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Talent and energy overcome disabilities at second edition of Sunburst

SOTA Year 4 dance students (above) getting the show off to a nimble start.

At the cheque presentation were (from left): Eva Ang, regional head, corporate affairs and brand & marketing, Asean and South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank; James Koh, director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation; Speaker of Parliment Tan Chuan-Jin; Wong Wei Kong, editor, The Business Times; Val Chong of SOTA; Jolene Poh, member of MDAS; Kenneth Chan, president of MDAS; and Loh Lik Peng, chairman of SOTA.


TALENT and energetic performances took centre stage from physical disabilities at Sunburst 2018 on Thursday night, as performers impressed a 350-strong audience with an upbeat set that showed off strong vocal, dance and musical chops.

In its second edition, Sunburst: The Business Times-CapitaLand Fundraising Concert was organised by The Business Times and presented by CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand, to raise money for people with muscular dystrophy as well as financially disadvantaged arts students.

This year's concert, held at the School of the Arts (SOTA) Concert Hall, set out to unite performers and the audience, which included members of the Children Cancer Foundation, through stories of strength and resilience.

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Kicking it off were Year 4 dance students from SOTA with breezy footwork, in time to Marina And The Diamonds' instrumental hit Primadonna, which gave way to well-known local pianist Azariah Tan's dexterous piano rendition of Calum Scott's You Are The Reason, accompanied by the vocals of 13-year-old Syah Riszuan, of 2017 Asia's Got Talent fame.

Azariah, who is hearing impaired, then hit the high notes with Chopin's Grande Polonaise Brillante in E Flat, Op 22, fingers flitting masterfully over the black-and-white keys to rapturous applause, filling the hall with emotive trills and lilting melodies.

Subsequently, wheelchair dancesport pair Andy Ang and Julie Chong upped the ante in a punchy, self-choreographed dance to Shakira's crowd-rousing anthem Waka Waka, with Julie spinning effortlessly across the floor on wheels emblazoned with gold lights, giving the concert a party-like atmosphere.

Heartstring-tugging moments were also aplenty - a trio from the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore (MDAS) and SOTA crooned the light-hearted ditty Serenade from the anime Fruits Basket.

Singaporean musician and SOTA alumnus Bennett Bay brought together fellow alumni for a soulful, acoustic version of his single Bonds, with an unlikely but outstanding ensemble of instruments - the electric guitar, violin, cello, glockenspiel and trumpet.

Befitting of the concert's theme, performers from MDAS and SOTA closed the show together with an uplifting This Is Me from cinema hit The Greatest Showman, to cheers and whistles from the crowd.

By the end of the night, S$250,000 was raised for the beneficiaries of MDAS and the SOTA Student Assistance Fund. Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin was the guest of honour for the concert and witnessed the cheque presentation.

The show is produced by Global Cultural Alliance, a non-profit arts and culture organisation, and curated by artistic director Jeremiah Choy.

The initiative has garnered strong support from main sponsors OCBC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, as well as other corporate donors like DBS, OSIM International, PropNex Realty, StarHub and Straco Corporation Limited, and individual donors.