In commemoration of the Singapore Bicentennial celebrations, Temple of Fine Arts has conceptualised a show titled Hrdaya – Heartstrings, a music-driven exploration into the thoughts and emotions of Sir Stamford Raffles – the founder of modern Singapore.
Hrdaya is an ensemble production that transcends time and emotion through a multitude of art forms. Underlined by a collection of music scores, it explores themes of beauty, wonderment, love, disappointment and hope, in relation to a Temasek then to a Singapore today. With visual enhancements such as shadow puppetry, live narrators and poets and an interactive multi-genre orchestral ensemble, Hrdaya engages the aural and visual senses of the audience.
The production follows the life of Sir Stamford Raffles during the period of the founding of Singapore in 1819. The narrative begins in 1805, and progresses through 8 orchestral pieces, covering his experiences in Singapore & South East Asia until 1826
India Se Media spoke to Lalit Kumar Ganesh from Temple of Fine Arts, part of the production Team for Hrdaya, to get more details about this unique production
India Se: Could you tell us what prompted TFA to come up with a special show for the Bicentennial celebrations? How long did it take for you to conceptualise the show?
TFA: Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) is a non-profit arts institution dedicated to the promotion of art and culture in Singapore. From its inception over 35 years ago, Temple of Fine Arts has contributed significantly to Singapore’s Indian cultural heritage as well as the development of the broader arts landscape. TFA is recognized by the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Arts Education Program, and is also recognised by the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) and the National Arts Council (NAC). TFA actively seeks to engage the public through its performances. These performances are not ticketed, and donations are gratefully accepted. Over the years, TFA has staged several successful stage productions and earned strong reputation and accolades for bringing novel music and dance performances to Singapore audiences.
For 2019, we were keen to commemorate Singapore’s rich history and stage a production that would reach out to the very core of every member of the audience. We wanted the overarching concept to transcend time and we began to look for parallels in the past, present and future. The answer was simple: Emotions and Feelings. While the inspiration for certain pieces in the production took seed as early as in 2013, Hrdaya felt like the ideal work to bring into a full scale production for the envisioned production, and so work has been underway for more than a year now.
Hrdaya is intended to showcase that emotionally – and essentially – we are all the same, and by coming together, we can leave behind a legacy in years to come, just like our forefathers did several years ago.
India Se: Tell us a little about the poets chosen for this show and what prompted your choices?
TFA: Preceding each composition is the recitation or interpretation of poems by Khalil Gibran, Langston Hughes, Rabindranath Tagore and William Blake to enhance the audience’s enjoyment of the music
The poets and the respective poetries were chosen based on the artistic concept of the project and with the vista that it could function as an adhesive to bring the eight musical pieces, shadow puppetry and the concept together as one production.
India Se: Are all performers local or have you invited overseas artists as well? Does the show also feature non-Indian artists?
TFA: Most of the performers are of Singaporean descent. A key purpose behind the production was to showcase TFA’s young artists, performers and production team. We are also excited to be collaborating with a small group of talented artists from our sister organization, TFA Kuala Lumpur, led by Kalpana Paranjothy (music) & Deepa Rajendra (shadow puppetry). We also have non-Indian artists on the saxophone, gambus and cello who share the same artistic vision we have for the show, and have been a pleasure to work with.
This project takes a multi-disciplinary approach in its presentation, with a home-grown orchestra, shadow puppetry and poetry. The orchestra features traditional Indian instruments with cross-cultural instrumentation, such as piano, cello, gambus, cajon, violin, etc. The audience will be able to experience the unique individuality of each instrument, and the impact when they all come together in perfect harmony.
India Se: Given the size of this production, are you planning to take it overseas?
TFA: We would be very keen to take this production to music festivals and showcases abroad!
Hrdaya – Heartstrings will be staged at School of The Arts (SOTA) Drama Theatre on Friday 16 August (7.30pm) and Saturday 17 August 2019 (3pm & 7.30pm). Invitations are available at Temple of Fine Arts, Singapore, or online: https://tinyurl.com/tfasghrdaya
Donations are welcome.
Address: Temple of Fine Arts, 20 Havelock Road, #01-03, Central Square, S 059765