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Baritone Matthias Goerne will sing Franz Schubert's 1828 song cycle Winterreise against a backdrop of images by William Kentridge.

Singapore's arts festival

A pulse on today's urgencies

Jul 31, 2015 5:50 AM

SINGAPORE's arts festival has long been seen as a leader and champion for contemporary art in the region. This year's programming shows that Singapore can retain that reputation.

One example is its championing of cross-genre works. Winterreise, for example, is a merger of William Kentridge's visual films with Franz Schubert's masterpiece in a powerful trio of voice, music and images.

The creative director of the festival Ong Keng Sen said: "We're not following the traditional models of theatre or dance or the 'big' names. I'm not interested in bringing in (dancer and choreographer) Pina Bausch, for example, or to present shows which are doing their 'Asia tour'. The shows have to fit our aims and themes."

This year's works present an "urgent" perspective. Taiwan Dreams, for example, represents the views of the current generation of artists towards China. "We want to mine the urgencies in the work," Mr Ong said, citing also Singapore group Drama Box's It Won't be Long, based on Bukit Brown Cemetery.

As it is Singapore's jubilee year, there are 12 Singapore commissions, a move which encourages artists to stretch their creativity and capabilities.

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A major focus has been on honouring the works of legends such as Goh Lay Kuan, Santha Bhaskar and Margaret Leng Tan, by examining their work in an international context.

"Sifa has a strong button on the contemporary and to look at emerging and urgent issues today," Mr Ong said.