Tag Archives: National Arts Council

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Reopens!

Located in the heart of the Empress Place Civic District, they are two of Singapore’s significant historical buildings and monuments. The Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall have reopened their doors again this July 2014, after a four-year refurbishment. The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall is among the leading mid-sized venues for performing arts in Singapore.


The Victoria Theatre was constructed between 1855 and 1862, the older of the two buildings. It was originally built as a Town Hall. By 1883, the Town Hall was unable to cope with the increasing demand and the offices had moved out of the Town Hall. Thereafter, it was converted into a theatre and renamed Victoria Theatre.


The Victoria Concert Hall, formerly known as the Victoria Memorial Hall, was constructed between 1902 and 1905 to honour Queen Victoria, who passed away in 1901. When the Memorial Hall was completed, the Town Hall underwent extensive renovations to complement the former Victorian architectural style. In the year 1909, the Town Hall reopened and renamed Victoria Theatre. The distinctive and tall clock tower, 54 metres high, which has a copper dome surmounted by a crown, joins the Theatre and Memorial Hall together. Playing a significant role in more than 100 years of Singapore’s history, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, as they are known today, played a part in Singapore’s colonial history, the performing arts scene and post-colonial Singapore history.

Gazetted as national monument of Singapore in February 1992, closed for a $158 million renovation in 2010. It was nice to welcome the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall back as they reopened their doors in 2014. Much of its original architecture has been preserved during its refurbishment. During the Open House Weekend on 19th and 20th July 2014, members of the public visited the refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall to re-connect and re-explore the history, culture, connections and significance of Singapore’s oldest performing arts venue. There were guided tours, self-guided tours and various arts and musical performances during the Open House.

Let me bring you through some of the refurbishment details of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall –

Central Atrium

The central passageway between Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall that existed originally in 1905 was reinstated through the restoration of the Central Atrium. The Central Atrium today is beautiful, spacious, more open and accessible to the public. The Central Atrium looks and feels grand when standing at the ground floor between the two grand monuments or looking down below from the second or third level of the Victoria Theatre or Victoria Concert Hall.


Victoria Theatre

Victoria Theatre formerly was able to accommodate 900 guests. Today, it has been reduced to 614 seats in order to create a more intimate theatre. The Victoria Theatre’s Acoustics was given a unique feature with the usage of varying recycled cast-iron components extracted from the historical classic red chairs of Victoria Theatre. They have been used to form horizontal bands across the acoustic timber walls, giving it an aesthetic effect that harmonises well with the acoustic permutations required.



Victoria Theatre’s Foyer Space

On the second floor of the Victoria Theatre, above the ceiling, there is a modernized “floating Rubik’s Cube” to support the front-of-house programs, complementing the contrast against the building’s neo-classical façade. The “Rubik Cube” is constructed from the timber seat backings from the original Victoria Theatre chairs. It’s a very interesting sight of retaining a part of Victoria Theatre’s history into the refurbished façade today.


Victoria Concert Hall

The Victoria Concert Hall retained much of its old world charm with its classical proportions and elaborate ornamentation. The balcony overhang was reduced during its refurbishment period to free up volume and improve acoustics.

The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall had provided different memories and experiences for Singaporeans. The National Arts Council and Singapore Memory Project have partnered together to capture and document precious and priceless memories, moments and stories relating to Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Visitors are strongly encouraged to share their images (of old and currently refurbished) taken at the iconic monuments of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. If you are uploading them to Instagram, remember to hashtag #irememberVictoria.

Here are the photographs that I took during the Open House and I would like to thank National Arts Council and Waggener Edstrom Communications for the guided tour arrangement!

Created with flickr slideshow.

Singapore Biennale 2013 – 26 Oct 2013 to 16 Feb 2014

Singapore Biennale 2013 – If The World Changed, the title of the 4th Edition of Singapore Biennale. In the 21st century, the pace of change, transformation and metamorphosis is at an unprecedented pace beyond any experience by any preceding generations. The changes are great and they are making changes to how we view our time and world in both the external and internal worlds of ours. Singapore Biennale 2013 explores this continuous changes with their artists line up through their own interpretations, meditations, reflections and making propositions through the displays of their artworks at Singapore Biennale 2013.


While this is the 4th edition of Singapore Biennale, this is the 3rd time I am following Singapore Biennale, with my first encounter in 2008 and second encounter in 2011. Here’s my Singapore Biennale photographs collection on Flickr! Singapore Biennale always intrigues me and I am amazed by the various artists artworks, their interpretations, thoughts, feelings and ideas through their marvellous and sometimes abstract artworks. In this constantly changing and evolving society, I am seeking to explore and capture the changes in Singapore’s history, heritage, architecture, landscapes and culture before they are changed into something else. Like the title for Singapore Biennale 2013 “If The World Changed”, I hope to seek inspiration and ideas from the various artists and their artworks to continue my own personal photojournalistic adventure in documenting, photographing, writing and sharing the old and new things in Singapore when it change.


I had just started photographing Singapore Biennale 2013 artworks and I hope to cover all of them during this exhibition period from 26th October 2013 to 16th February 2014. Along my journey during Singapore Biennale 2013, if I discover an artwork that strikes me deeply and emotionally, I will share it with my readers and followers here.

The artworks that I covered from 26th October 2013 to 2nd November 2013 were as follows (with the links to the respective artist’s bio and profile) –

Road to Nirvana


National Theatre @ 50

Toy (Churning of the Sea of Milk)

2243 : Moving Forward


Lumbung Ilmu

Among the initial artworks that I visited and photographed, the artworks Road to Nirvana, Wormhole, Bamboo-Bonsai-ing and National Theatre @ 50, gave me a lot to ponder, reflect and explore it further. How will these different intriguing, amazing and wonderful artworks be able to give me the ideas and directions to capture Singapore’s changes better? While I seek an answer or many answers, I will continue to explore and share about Singapore Biennale 2013 here with my photographs and thoughts.


If you are visiting and exploring Singapore Biennale 2013, here are useful links and information for Singapore Biennale 2013

Singapore Biennale 2013 website

Singapore Biennale 2013 Facebook Page

Singapore Art Museum Twitter Account

Singapore Art Museum Instagram Account 

Singapore Biennale 2013 promisees to be an exciting and intriguing arts event and exhibition. Share it with your family, loved ones and friends, visit Singapore Biennale 2013 and explore “If The World Changed”. Do keep a lookout here on my photography site, Facebook Page, InstagramFlickr and 500px when I share my Singapore Biennale 2013 journey, photographs, thoughts and feelings, in my journey to explore “If The World Changed”.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012 ~ Dream Country – A Lost Monologue

Watching a monologue performance in the open night, a journey into a realm of dreaming and hope. The Dream Country – A Lost Monologue was inspired by Dream Country, a monologue written by Malaysian playwright Leow Puay Tin, the dance is about birth, life and death. While the monologue is not lost, it lives on in the dance.

With 35 performers and 35 urns, they were engaged in their own process of discovery, finding their own monologue, their stories and journeys. In their remarkable monologue performance in the outdoors at the Esplanade Park, with the beautiful Singapore’s modern skyline as a backdrop, we were brought into the performers world together to dream and discover our own stories, journeys and monologue. The performance in monologue was rich and invoking, mesmerising and intriguing. The thoughts, feelings and emotions inside us watching them in action, in search of of our own.

If you like to know more about the Mastermind behind Dream Country – A Lost Monologue, they can be found here on the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 – Dream Country – A Lost Monologue event page. Upon the end of the Lost Monologue, a warm and rousing applause was awarded to the remarkable performers who brought to all of us watching a memorable outdoor arts performance at the Singapore Arts Festival 2012. Check out my photographs of Dream Country – A Lost Monologue on Flickr!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012 – T’ang Quartert

A night of an outdoor beautiful musical performance wowing and mesmerising the crowds with a series of folk songs melody that touches the Singapore Heartlanders hearts and souls so deeply, bringing us back to an era of simpler days of the early Singapore. This  night stays in our vivid memories that happened on 26th May at the Singapore Arts Festival 2012, performed by the wonderful and extremely talented T’ang Quartert performing at the Singapore Arts Festival 2012.

The songs they played, brought us back in time, T’ang Quartert presented their magical performance to us, their music inspired by folk songs that reflect on the theme Our Lost Poems, recalling Singapore from a simpler era. It was so beautiful and mesmerising that many a times, I stopped and listened to them instead of taking photographs! The songs they played, invoked memories for different people of different generations, I grew up listening to the songs shown on the drama series during my primary school days. Some of the songs performed were the medleys of xinyao and themes from old Chinese TV series such as Kopi-O, something that I can closely relate to, during my growing up years from a kid to teenager.

Stories from CK and Jerome, their great sharing on T’ang Quartert performance, shows how powerful and awesome T’ang Quartert were during Singapore Arts Festival 2012 with their beautiful musical performances.

– CK Ng ~ An Evening of Nostalgia with the T’ang Quartert

– Jerome Lim ~ Strings to a forgotten time

During the performance CK recorded some of T’ang Quartert and sit back, relax, watch the performance by T’ang Quartert and be blown away by the aura and charisma along with the beautiful musical melodies. T’ang Quartert has a Facebook site too, check them out here on FaceBook and also on YouTube! Here’s my photos of T’ang Quartert performing during Singapore Arts Festival 2012 on Flickr !

Video Source : CK Ng

Video Source : CK Ng

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012 – OPEN STUDIO 2012 FEATURING SONGBIRD

Singapore Arts Festival 2012 closed with a big bang on the 2nd of June 2012, bringing the curtains to a great arts performances festivals that draws great crowds and participation, giving us many wonderful memories to bring back home and eagerly waiting for the next Singapore Arts Festival. There were some performances that I photographed and documented, yet wasn’t able to write it down here, even though the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 is already over, I will let my photojournalistic coverage and photos leave a greater memory down for the future Singapore Arts Festivals ! The flow of my photos here on Flickr would help you through my photojournalistic story telling …

共作室 OPEN STUDIO 2012 FEATURING SONGBIRD – This is an arts performance that combines and optimises modern information technology and gadgets, giving us the participants, a journey/walk into a drama/adventure that comprises of beautiful music, singing, the story of a very beautiful and talented singer that went missing, while the fans were waiting for her singing debut, the glamorous and mysterious Feist.

With the aid of an iPhone App, GPS, Maps and your headphones plugged into your ears, the participants like myself arrived at the top of the Festival Village Cafe, waiting for the SongBird concert to start. Never did we realised that, it was a journey that opened up into the virtual and reality world of the SongBird, about her ambition to be a singer, the fans obsession with her, aspiration, love and what really happened to her. With videos, SMS and songs, I started walking the journey to search for SongBird, with the usage of the SongBird iPhone App, my journey begun, walking towards Fullerton Hotel Heritage Gallery for my first clue to where she could be. We were shown an art gallery exhibition of SongBird, her portraits, artwork and drawings, where was SongBird ? The clue was to continue to the next location with the scanning of the QR code and our Apple iPhone App will direct us, with directions, maps, songs, SMS.

The journey continued, interactive and intriguing, it’s like an unknown adventure, exploring and searching for Feist, where can she be? Walking towards Asian Civilisations Museum as directed by the SongBird App, I was asked to turn back and walk towards another location, what happened? Walking towards the Singapore River, where the Anderson Bridge on  the Singapore River is located, my destination was the concrete benches where more clues to SongBird were released, through the videos, SMS and songs. This was also a special time whereby the participants were treated to a local ice cream from the ice cream vendor nearby the Anderson Bridge! After a short rest, I continued the journey to search after scanning the QR code for the next set of clues and directions. It was very near, the long Lotus limousine behind the small road and I hopped inside, watching a video being played, yet no more details of SongBird were released and it only added on to the mysteries behind it!

As the journey continues into the unknown, I arrived at the SongBird press conference at Animus Music HQ, taking a self-photo and pasting it on the Press Pass, I was watching the press conference for SongBird. After I finished watching it, I left and was directed back to Esplanade Park, where the Old Old Tree was, the last location on this 1 hour journey adventure. Walking along St Andrew’s Road, in the dusk, watching SongBird’s video being played, it was around the same time and scene. Following the directions on the app, I returned to where I started at Singapore Arts Festival and found the Old Old Tree.

Under the Old Old Tree, I found the peace and tranquility, while SongBird was never seen in real person, the beautiful music, vidoes, songs had been accompanying me throughout this interesting and intriguing 1 hour journey in a quest to search for her.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012 ~ XII – In Search of 13

This special arts performance at Singapore Arts Festival 2012, is probably very special and very unique, why is it so? In simple words, it’s simply Singaporean in heart, mind, soul, thoughts, ideologies, views and thinking of everything Singaporean, that maybe only Singaporeans can understand. This is the XII – In Search of 13.

The Search of 13 can be found at the wrestling ring, inside the Festival Village, with the backdrop of Merlion, Fullerton Hotel, Raffles Place and Esplanade surrounding it, where 12 contenders vie to be the ultimate national icon, amid a backdrop of myths, stories and drama where the Lim Bo Seng memorial stands. The match up is decided by you, the audience, who can vote for their icon to fight against the biggest icon on stage, the Merlion. YOUR VOTE IS SECRET !

Like any wrestling or a boxing match, there’s lots of hype and pre-action, with the hosts/emcees inviting the audience to come forward to the wrestling ring and watch the upcoming battle, to vote/choose an icon to fight against the Merlion. During the build up towards the fight between the heavyweights, issues were brought up, that were close to the heartlanders of Singapore, issues that modern Singaporeans faced in the era of modernisation and migration of different cultures and people from all over the world into Singapore. There were myths, current issues, happenings and things that were spread across during this very unique and special performance that will definitely hooked you to watch this “wrestling match” especially if you have been living in Singapore, simply because it touches your heart and hot buttons. What are some of the issues ? Here’s some – cooking curry and your neighbours, general election etc

This wonderful performance XII – In Search of 13 has 2 more shows, here are the details

Where : Wrestling Ring, Festival Village

Dates : 1st June 2012 and 2nd June 2012,

Performance Time : 7:00pm and 9:00pm on both days

Performance Duration : 60mins

DO NOT MISS this awesome, unique, special and so wonderful performance at the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 (especially if you are living in Singapore), for a great laugh, fun and the opportunity to see how this wrestling ring might fits into your daily life and thoughts. Do drop by and check out some of the photos here!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012 – 18th May to 2nd June

The Singapore Arts Festival 2012 has started on the 18th May 2012, an awesome festival of many interesting, intriguing, exciting and fun events, performances, celebrating Singapore’s local arts scene and Singapore’s diverse communities. The Singapore Arts Festival brings greater vibrancy, recognition and development of the Singapore Arts scene, artistic and cultural lifestyle in Singapore, supported by international artists and performers. On top of that, it puts Singapore on the world map, becoming a vibrant cosmopolitan city, a cultural capital, with a vibrant and diverse arts scene. The theme for Singapore Arts Festival 2012 is “Something Ancient, Something Lost, Something Hidden, Something New“, the wide diverse festival programmes at the Singapore Arts Festival would bring you into that.

There are many programmes happening during Singapore Arts Festival 2012, there is something for the young and old, suits your family fun activities, or to watch, participate and enjoy at the Singapore Arts Festival 2012. The Festival Village is located at Esplanade Park, there are different sectors for different performing arts and events, it’s full of vibrancy and excitement. There is something for the kids too, the Kids Arts Village, filled with interesting activities for your kids to play and enjoy. That’s music, dancing, arts performances, happening at the Festival Village, the heart and action of many interesting and fun events and performances of Singapore Arts Festival 2012. That’s food and beverages there too at the cafe and bar, so don’t worry if you are having fun there and wanted to look for a meal and drinks!

I am covering the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 as a Festival Ambassador a.k.a Festival Photographer + Festival Blogger, it’s a great honour and great fun too, photographing, documenting and writing some of the arts performances and displays. While I can’t cover all the performances and events, I would try to bring as many sights, perspectives, photographs and stories of the performances that I watched, covered, documented and photographed. One of them was, The Lan Fang Chronicles 2012 (Installation Performance) that I went to watch, cover, document, photograph and write, do check out my Lan Fang Chronicles 2012 (Installation Performance) post here! Check out the photos from the Lan Fang Chronicles 2012 (Installation Performance) here on Flickr!

On 19th May, I attended/watched the following performances, they are great and do come down to Singapore Arts Festival 2012 and catch them live in action!



XII – In Search of 13

Claressa Monteiro 

Do check out the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 for more details and information on the extensive line up of interesting and exciting programmes from 18th May to 2nd June. Check out my photographs taken at the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 on Flickr!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012 – LAN FANG CHRONICLES 2012

Traveling along the MRT train tracks between Buona Vista MRT station and Commonwealth MRT station, I will never miss the sight of the cemetery beside the HDB blocks of Holland and Commonwealth area. It never occur to me that this location had a very strong history and heritage, representing the Hakka community in Singapore. This is the Ying Fo Hui Jun Ancestral Temple, dating back to 1887, by the Hakka clan, Ying Fo Fui Kun, as a burial ground for kinsmen from Jia Ying prefecture in Canton, China.

Today, as part of Singapore Arts Festival 2012, Ying Foh Kuan plays host to their Hakka roots and history chronicles – 兰芳记 Lan Fang Chronicles 2012 (Installation Performance) as part of the festival’s 2012 theme – Something Ancient – Something Lost – Something Hidden – Something New, representing the history and investigations of the 18th century Lan Fang Republic, founded by Hakka Chinese in West Borneo. The Lan Fang Republic was the first democratic republic in South East Asia, founded by Luo Fang Bo in 1777 and reigned for 107 years before the Dutch came in 1884, ending the Lan Fang Republic. The descendants fled across the region to other parts of South East Asia to Sumatra, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

This is something very special and unique, powerful, mesmerising, intriguing and mind blowing, through site specific performances of 5 different chapters comprising of recital pieces, live encounters and lecture performances within Ying Foh Kuan, the ideal location to understand and learn “Something Ancient, Something Lost, Something Hidden and Something New”, combining history, memories, facts, mixing it with fiction, myths, imagination and future interpolation, to reconstruct a story of what the Lan Fang Republic could have been via these chapters, like a jigsaw puzzle, putting all 5 different chapters together to create something for us to learn “Something New

Before we went into “classes” to learn about the  5 “Chapters”, we were given a short yet very interesting introduction and closing, the prologue and epilogue by Serene  Chen on the history of Lan Fang Chronicles and its origins, with videos, interviews, research, traveling and documentation.

– The Man Who Rode Crocodiles

Watching a documentary inspired by the poem written by Luo Fang Bo, the founder of Lan Fang Republic. It’s about a practice of exorcising the crocodiles that metamorphosis into different versions in the folklore culture today. It was quite an interesting documentary to watch!

– The De Groot Collection

A beautiful collection of artifacts, they are speculative and inspired by the works of Dutch Sinologist J.J.M De Groot, who published the earliest known and most comprehensive western documentation of the Lan Fan Republic in 1885. Every artifact there on display has a story, significance and timeline behind the sequence of artifacts display, that is brilliantly shown in our host’s (Bright Ong) display of emotions, words and thoughts. The beautiful collection artifacts are available for you to own too, if you are keen to own it! You have to visit the installation to take a close look at the beautiful artwork!

– The Archivist’s Room

Being a photographer, this is my favourite Chapter! I was totally blown away by the photography collection of the Lan Fang Republic, along with the maps, sketches and documents. Not only were they well preserved, the vintage and quality of the photographs are beyond words and it lives up to the tagline of “A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words”. Our host for this Chapter, Yak Aik-Wee was excellent in bringing life and emotions into the photographs, maps, sketches, ensuring our attention are glued to the photography collection. For a photography and history fan, you will love this Chapter !

– Memoirs of the Visitors

Entering a holy place inside Ying Foh Kuan, it’s the Ancestral Hall, where memories and stories from the visitors dairies to the Lan Fang Republic. The ambience, peacefulness and tranquility  setting of the Ancestral Hall suits the story telling recital perfectly, creating an imaginary scene of the days during the Lan Fang Republic, whereby daily activities, festivities and practices were shared and told across towards the attentive audience inside the hall. The recital was performed by Lok Meng Chue, who hosted and shared here warmth and passion across the audience at the Ancestral Hall.

– Epic Poems of the Kongsi War

Set at the outside, under tall trees and facing the Hakka cemetery in the background, this Chapter got me glued to my host’s (Najib Soiman) extremely powerful and strong performance, with loud voice and singing, echoing into the dark background of the Hakka cemetery, flanked by the HDB flats of Holland Avenue area. It was a poetry recital based on the original Malay poem, Syair Perang Cina di Mandor – “Story of the Chinese Wars in Mandor”, written by an anonymous author in 1853, telling the stories of the start of the decline of the Lan Fang Republic in the last 30 years. With my very limited knowledge and command of the Malay language, I wasn’t able to understand many of the poetry and recital words and sentences. However, it was a very powerful performance that blew me away, I felt the passion and emotions, flowing through him and his recital, and I ended up not taking any photographs at all, I was just basically glued to my host’s performance. Simply put, if a performance can make a photographer put aside their equipment and glued to them, it speaks enormous volume about the performance and performer.

From the Director’s (Choy Ka Fai) Note, this project is not meant to depict historical events, instead it is to recollect and reflect the mysteries, history, fame, significance, combining them with myths, stories, memories and different fragments to showcase  the experiences, an era and a universe that is now forgotten. After experiencing all the 5 Chapters above, combining history, facts, stories, fiction and myths, it was an absolutely mind-stirring, intriguing and mesmerising adventure, like a history and heritage school student taking in 5 Chapters of history, play, facts and myths within 2 hours. Yet, I am still hungry to know, understand and explore more about Lan Fang Chronicles.

The 兰芳记 Lan Fang Chronicles 2012 (Installation Performance) is highly recommended and I strongly encourage all of you reading this post to watch it there ! More photos of the Lan Fan Chronicles 2012 (Installation Performance) can be found here on Flickr and there is also more information can be obtained here on Singapore Arts Festival 2012 events information page! Here’s a quick information guide –

When : 18 – 20 May, 24 – 27 May, 31 May – 2 Jun @ 7:00PM
19 – 20 May, 26 – 27 May, 2 Jun @ 3:30PM

Ticket Price : $25 (available via SISTIC)

Location : Ying Foh Kuan (Shuang Long Shan), 9 Commonwealth Lane

After attending 5 Chapters of Lan Fang Chronicles 2012 (Installation Performance) –

I learned “Something New (Always Learning New Things and Knowledge), it’s Something Ancient (definitely), Something Lost (in time) and Something Hidden (over time)”

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.