Straits Times subscribers enjoy a cultural night at Sifa show Mepaan

Music Director of Singapore Chinese Orchestra Maestro Tsung Yeh (right) giving a talk to ST subscribers on May 19, 2022. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE -It was a night to remember for 25 Straits Times subscribers and their guests, who won seats at an exclusive preview of Mepaan, the opening show of this year's Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa).

The audience of 50 watched Mepaan (meaning "always", in a loose translation from the language of Borneo's indigenous Kayan people), organised by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Tuyang Initiative - a Sarawak-based creative agency focused on Borneo's indigenous cultural heritage - on May 19 at the Pasir Panjang Power Station.

Data analyst Kester Chia, 27, found the show - which incorporated Borneo's musical and vocal traditions - to be fresh and unique.

"The performance was cool. It is quite different from concerts I am familiar with," he said, adding that he found the venue to be "alternative".

He also appreciated learning about how the show was created, as well as its focus on indigenous culture.

After the performance ended, the subscribers and their guests had the opportunity to meet maestro Yeh Tsung, music director of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, who explained the inspirations behind the set's artistic direction.

In a question-and-answer session, the conductor was asked about the challenges he had faced along the way. He told the audience about the complexity of ensuring that the five musical pieces that comprised the performance were melodically united, yet distinctive.

Among the five pieces performed, Mr Chia said his favourite was the penultimate number, as he enjoys "upbeat, exciting pieces with a faster tempo".

Ms Valerie Quak, 25, said the first piece was her favourite. "It was a great entrance," said the learning-support educator, adding that she enjoyed the grandeur and ritualistic aspects of the performance, as well as the clattering percussion instruments.

ST Life editor Susan Long said: "Arts and culture are an important pillar of our reader offerings, and we are glad our subscribers enjoyed themselves at this unique preview."

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