Now in its fifth year, the Esplanade’s festival of religious music and dance will be bringing together the best traditional acts from Singapore and the far reaches of the world.
Happening from 19 to 21 April, the festival kicks off on a lively note with America’s well-known Harlem Gospel Choir, which has been making their mark across the world for 26 years. Besides performing for important figures such as Barack and Michelle Obama, they’ve also shared the stage with contemporary artists like the Gorillaz and John Legend. The 64-man group will be belting out classic gospel songs like ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ with resounding gusto and high spirits. You’ll definitely get the urge to clap along.
Another highlight is the exotic and ancient art of Persian poetry sung by Iranian classical singer Hamid Reza Nourbaksh. Hamid was trained under critically praised singer Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, who has been deemed an ustad (master) of Persian music. Together with his band of musicians, he will be setting the moving poetry against the sound of classical instruments like the tombak, a small hand drum, and the kamancheh, a violin-like instrument.
Aside from foreign performers, the organisers have paid special care to showing appreciation for our multi-cultural roots by inviting people from the various religious communities to share their sacred art. Take your pick from Hindu priests reciting Vedic verses to classical Jewish musicians, and even Gregorian chanters who are normally only seen at Latin mass at a Catholic church.
In the arena of sacred performing arts, Korean traditional dancer Park Kyung Rang will be taking on a series of routines that are influenced by Buddhist traditions and Korean shamanic rituals with the Deuneum Ensemble, a group of six musicians who come from a line of important musical families.
Those of you on a budget will appreciate the range of free shows both indoors and outdoors, including masked dances by Balinese troupe Gamelan Pinda Sari and Yiddish tunes by Jewish ensemble The Yiddshe Camerata.
The festival will also be announcing a series of workshops soon that will give you a hands-on peek into the music and dance from different beliefs.
Whether you’re a devoted believer or just curious, the Esplanade’s A Tapestry of Sacred Music has everything you need to get back to the roots of music and dance that are often taken for granted.
Tickets for A Tapestry of Sacred Music 2013 are available on Sistic.