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Xinyao, getai stars jam with new pop names in Chinese cultural extravaganza


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SINGAPORE: From dancers interacting with hologram images, local singer-songwriter Gentle Bones trying his hand at singing in Mandarin, and xinyao singer Pan Ying jamming with an a capella group, the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) will mark its official opening next month with an eight-day festival that mixes the traditional with contemporary.

The first SCCC Cultural Extravaganza, which will be held at the centre’s new premises behind the Singapore Conference Hall, will run from May 20 to 27. It will comprise events ranging from a multimedia stage performance and a music concert, to a new short film omnibus, and even workshops on crosstalk, puppetry and wushu. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will open the centre on May 19. 

The SCCC Cultural Extravaganza will kick off with Voyage, a one-and-a-half hour multimedia stage performance revolving around rhymes and folk songs familiar to many Singaporeans. It will include performances by the TENG Ensemble, dancers from THE Dance Company, and getai singer Lee Pei Fen. In the show, popular actors Li Yinzhu and Desmond Tan, will also be presenting a monologue and show off some drumming skills, respectively.

It will also include some high-tech wizardry, courtesy of holographic elements, said filmmaker Royston Tan, who conceptualized Voyage and is one of the festival’s co-artistic directors.

Royston Tan’s multimedia show Voyage, which will be staged at the SCCC Cultural Extravaganza, will feature dancers interacting with holographic images. (Photo: Royston Tan)

“We’re fusing tradition with a contemporary touch,” he said. “We have this device that allows the dancers to interact with the hologram, which we’ve never done before.”

Meanwhile, the one-night-only Sing Lang Concert will close the festival with its mix of xinyao veterans and the next generation of singers in a series of collaborative performances of tunes from the 1980s to the present. The line-up includes Liang Wern Fook, Tay Kewei, THELIONCITYBOY, among others.

But it won’t be just any ordinary concert – with many of them going out of their comfort zones.

For example, homegrown singer-songwriter Gentle Bones, who’s known for his English tunes, will be trying his hand singing in Mandarin. Meanwhile, xinyao performer Pan Ying will be collaborating with a capella group MICappella.

“We’re going to challenge them to do what they usually don’t do,” said musician Goh Kheng Long, who is the concert’s music director.

Added Fan Dong Kai, co-artistic director of SCCC Cultural Extravaganza: “We want it to be very dynamic and have a very contemporary touch. It will be a beautiful match, taking some of our veteran and contemporary artists to be able to come together.”

Aside from these two highlights, the festival will also include the screening of a new short film omnibus. Produced by Tan, the film 667 features contributions from the likes of Eva Tang, Kirsten Tan, Liao Jiekai, He Shuming, Boo Junfeng, and Jun Chong, who look at their cultural roots.

Elsewhere, there will also be an exhibition by 18 artists from Singapore’s creative and arts sector, and workshops and showcases on cross talk, puppetry, Chinese opera and wushu. The latter will include an appearance by Singapore’s wushu icon Vincent Ng.

The eight-day event will be used as a signal to the public that the long-awaited S$110m centre is now up and running – and that it won’t simply cater to Chinese traditional culture.

“As our name says, it’s a centre and not a heritage museum, and we will include culture that emerges from our base, the public,” said SCCC chief executive Choo Thiam Siew.

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