What's for lunch? Flamenco and fiddlers

A member of the public tries her hand at conducting Ding Yi Music Company at an open-air lunchtime concert in Raffles Place.
A member of the public tries her hand at conducting Ding Yi Music Company at an open-air lunchtime concert in Raffles Place.PHOTO: NATIONAL ARTS COUNCIL

Lunchtime events in the CBD area take shows out of theatres to where office workers are

Ding Yi Music Company's recent strangely sombre performance of the Abba tune Mamma Mia outside Raffles Place MRT station was all about engaging the public.

It was conducted by this clueless reporter in a 45-minute performance, which invited members of the public to try their hand at conducting the ensemble.

This was the first of six lunchtime events in the heart of the city organised by the National Arts Council as part of its Arts In Your Neighbourhood initiative. The series seeks to take the arts out of theatres and concert halls and into neighbourhoods and workplaces.

Ms Chua Ai Liang, director of arts and communities at the council, says the project hopes to encourage "self-expression, creativity and bonding through the arts by taking it to where people live, work and play".

She adds that the lunchtime activities were designed to be short and sweet, as many office workers do not have a lot of time for lunch.

She says: "We have gathered a suite of entertaining as well as bite-sized quality performances, workshops and talks that can take place over the lunchtime period. We hope these engaging programmes can encourage more office workers to take that brief hour to enjoy the arts and inject some fun and vibrancy during lunchtime."

Performances will take place until Aug 27 and include a world music concert by a string music trio, a flamenco performance and a talk on appreciating and collecting art by curator Seah Tzi-Yan, the director of Theo Arts Professionals, an arts training and outreach company.

They will be held at One Raffles Quay and Marina Bay Link Mall. Mr Warren Bishop, chief executive officer of Raffles Quay Asset Management, which manages the venues, says that aside from making the area more lively, the events also "provide suitable platforms for artists to showcase their work, contributing to the growth of Singapore's arts scene".

The next performance in the series is Escencia Flamenca by Flamenco Sin Fronteras, which takes place tomorrow at Marina Bay Link Mall.

The Spanish dance performance incorporates soulful singing, live music and stunning footwork. Five dancers will be performing two half-hour-long sets, dressed in the traditional long gowns and shirts.

Co-founder of the group Daphne Huang, 41, says that she is looking forward to the performance, as it is "not in a usual setting where you would see people singing and dancing".

"There are a lot more artists and musicians in the streets in Europe but in Singapore, it's not so prevalent yet," she says. "It's a good thing to encourage this, the feeling that arts and culture can be in your everyday life as you're walking down the street or in a shopping centre."

Performing next Monday is the fusion band Flame Of The Forest, a quartet that plays popular songs such as Hotel California and Sweet Child Of Mine on the tabla, sitar, violin and guitar.

Its percussionist Govin Tan, 22, says that the series is about "bringing the arts to people, not people to the arts".

He adds that their performance is "edutainment", not just entertainment: "We want to let the public learn more about our instruments and the Singapore music scene."

Mr Soh Yi Cong, 23, an actuarial associate at HSBC, was one of the audience members at Ding Yi's recent performance.

He says: "It's awesome. We can relax during lunch and catch a performance. If I weren't watching this, I would just have had lunch and gone back to the office."


The next edition of Arts In Your Neighbourhood will be held in November. Go to www.nac.gov.sg/arts-you/for-everyone for more information.