Veteran artists perform at 7th Silver Arts festival

On Sept 8, 2018, three generations of music teachers and students will take to the stage together at the School of the Arts Concert Hall, in an angklung performance titled Konsert Gurindam Jiwa (Music of the Soul).
On Sept 8, 2018, three generations of music teachers and students will take to the stage together at the School of the Arts Concert Hall, in an angklung performance titled Konsert Gurindam Jiwa (Music of the Soul).PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - In the 1970s, singer Gina Vadham was known as Singapore's own Patsy Cline as she performed hit country and western songs with bands like The Mandarins. On Sept 22, the 70-year-old will take to the stage again for the National Arts Council's annual Silver Arts festival which celebrates veteran artists and creative ageing.

This year is the seventh edition of Silver Arts, and it is tailored as usual to reach out to audiences over the age of 60 as well as encourage inter-generational bonding. It runs from Sept 6 to 30 and features 80 artists and arts groups, a third of whom are aged 60 or older.

Ms Chua Ai Liang, NAC's senior director of engagement and participation, said at the press conference on July 25 at the Drama Centre: "It's not just artists performing for seniors. Veteran artists and seniors who want to perform are in this space."

On Sept 8, three generations of music teachers and students will take to the stage together at the School of the Arts Concert Hall, in an angklung performance titled Konsert Gurindam Jiwa (Music of the Soul), produced by arts-maker Saiful Amri.

The concert features the soulful film scores of the late composer Wandly Yazid, works written for a symphony orchestra but now scored for a 70-strong angklung ensemble by 28-year-old composer Syafiqah Adha Sallehin.

The angklung orchestra of retired teachers and secondary school students is led by Syafiqah's teacher, pioneering angklung conductor Faridah Jamal. Also on stage is Faridah's teacher, the 67-year-old poet and musician Bahri Rajib.

Faridah, 56, says: "I'm going to enjoy watching my young people playing with my mentor and mentee."

Silver Arts offers space to showcase veteran artists whom younger audiences may not be aware of. Vadham, for example, has never stopped singing. She is active in her church choir, and was in ticketed gigs such as a Carpenters showcase at the Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay in 2015, and the arts enclave's A Date With Friends series in 2013.

"It's a little harder to hit the higher notes but as long as I have my voice, I'm all right," she says.

In September's Good Oldies! concert, she will sing with her son, musician K.C. Meals, the current frontman of alternative rock outfit Sun Eater.

The concert will also feature home-grown band The Meltones, which has been performing for more than 50 years.

The Silver Arts festival calendar has 37 programmes including dance, theatre, screenings of classic movies and new short films, art exhibitions, plays and concerts. There are activities encouraging Singaporeans to explore their creative side, such as a songwriting workshop at Jurong Regional Library on Sept 14 and an introduction to doodling at Woodlands Regional Library on Sept 20.

"Date Your Grandparents", suggests the festival booklet, inviting younger viewers to attend with older relatives. For example, Ding Yi Music Company's set of 1980s tunes on Sept 14, a concert with former radio presenter Chang Mei Hsiang, aims to recreate the Rediffusion cable radio experience and appeal across generations.

Ms Chua says: "With a stronger focus on inter-generational programmes, we also hope to see more families attending and spending time together at the festival."

Tickets for most Silver Arts festival events are currently available via APACTix (www.apactix.com). Tickets for film screenings go on sale on Aug 23 at Golden Village.


Correction note: An earlier version of this story said tickets for film screenings go on sale on Aug 25. It should be Aug 23. We are sorry for the error.