Singapore is a good place to view and purchase Asian art
Throughout the year, a giddy whirl of festivals and celebrations, reflecting the diverse beliefs and backgrounds of this cultural melting pot. In fact, in a population made up of Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs hardly a month goes by without some religious or cultural festival thronging the streets and temples. With Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu festivals marked by public holidays throughout the year, Christmas is just one more holiday – for which shops stay open. The Chinese calendar dominates and the Chinese New Year is the biggest festival of all. Unlike in the west, culture and religion remain intimately entwined.
Mainstream performing arts are also well represented, culminating in the Singapore Arts Festival, held every year in June, which attracts dance, theatre and music groups from all over the world. Andrew Lloyd Webber productions are a favourite. Year-round performances from overseas tend to be heavily oversubscribed and tickets should be booked well in advance. Free musical and theatrical performances are held regularly in local parks and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra performs twice a week except in June.
Singapore is a good place to view and purchase Asian art in general as well as works by Singaporean artists. Singapore’s cultural diversity means that works by local artists cover a broad palette of themes and styles. Notable galleries include the Singapore Art Museum, Bras Basah Road (tel: (65) 332 3222); Artfolio, Raffles Hotel (tel: (65) 334 4677); Art2 at The Substation, Armenian Street (tel: (65) 338 8713) and Cicada Gallery of Fine Arts, Ann Siang Road (tel: (65) 225 6787).
Music: The Singapore Symphony Orchestra (tel: (65) 338 4401; website: www.sso.org.sg) gives regular performances at the Victoria Concert Hall, Empress Place. The SSO was founded in 1979 and walks a skilful tightrope between Asian and western music and has a growing, if still fragile, reputation. There is also the NUS Symphony Orchestra (tel: (65) 874 2493), which can be found at the NUS Forum and Theatrette. The Singapore Lyric Opera, Waterloo Street (tel: (65) 336 1929; website: www.singaporeopera.com.sg), much like the rest of the opera world, is busy celebrating Verdi’s centenary. They play at the Victoria Theatre, Empress Place.
Local newspapers carry lists of events happening each day as does the online National Arts and Entertainment Calendar (website: www.happening.com.sg). Tickets can be booked through Sistic (tel: (65) 348 5555) or Ticketcharge (tel: (65) 296 2929).