The Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) Festival of Arts returns in 2023 for its 19th edition from Thursday, 20th April 2023 to Monday, 1st May 2023 at SIFAS and Esplanade– Theatres On The Bay.
Curated with the theme Kalpana to mean Imagination in Sanskrit the Festival presents original highlight productions by teachers, alumni, students, and international partners such as Home, Kathambam, and Jaya Ram in collaboration with The Esplanade.
These highlight performances will be complemented by free public programmes that include a visual arts exhibition, a culinary and crafts bazaar and workshops.
“This year we celebrate the 19th edition of the SIFAS Festival of the Arts, introducing a fresh approach to classical Indian musical and dance performances. The presentation of original productions – HOME, Kathambam and Jaya Ram, in collaboration with The Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, demonstrates how the classical Indian arts has innovated to creatively express and depict the many diverse issues that we are engaged with today. The SIFAS Festival of the Arts, thus provides an exciting platform for the discovery and appreciation of the classical Indian arts relevant for our times and contemporary audiences in Singapore,” says Mr Puneet Pushkarna, Chairman of Performances and External Relations, SIFAS.
Reflecting on her relationship with nature, environment, wildlife and consumer choices, HOME’ is a musical production conceived and created by Sushma Soma, in collaboration with multi-percussionist and music producer Praveen Sparsh.
It is an extension of her critically acclaimed album HOME, which she created with American composer and musician Aditya Prakash. From sharing her gratitude and love for the planet to disappointment and rage in the current state of the world, Sushma also calls out her own complicity in the destruction of the natural world and the discrimination of the world around her that arises from her privilege.
HOME will be performed at the Esplanade Recital Studio on 22 April.
Featuring independent artists from Singapore, SIFAS teachers, alumni and students, in a 20-piece ensemble unifying instruments of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, Kathambam presents a multi-genre and multi-ethnic musical concert.
Performed at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 23 April, the concert will feature melodies inspired by ancient poetry, Indian classical and folk music, western elements, and various languages.
An entirely original Odissi production, Jaya Ram brings to the stage the myth of Lord Rama, hero of the epic Ramayana. While maintaining the format of traditional Odissi presentation, Jaya Ram is a unique Odissi production that infuses influences of indigenous folk genres in both music and movement.
Jaya Ram is the brainchild of the two Odissi powerhouses, Gajendra Panda and Ramli Ibrahim, and is a culmination of an in-depth research into the folk dance genres of South Odisha.
The one night only performance in Singapore at The Esplanade Theatre on 28 April is the grand finale of a successful tour in Malaysia and India.
SIFAS Festival of the Arts 2023 will be on from Thursday, 20th April to Monday, 1st May. Free dance and music public programmes are available throughout the festival period. To view the calendar of events, please visit https://www.sifas.org/festival-of-arts2023.html Tickets for HOME, Kathambam and Jaya Ram, in collaboration with Esplanade– Theatres on the Bay, are on sale on SISTIC.
Tickets are available through SISTIC
Jaya Ram: https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/jaya0423
Venue of Show: Recital Studio
Date of Show: Saturday, 22nd April 2023
Timing of Show: 3pm and 7.30pm (70 mins)
Price Categories: Cat 1 ($35)
HOME – A musical production conceived and created by Sushma Soma. This version of HOME presented as part of the SIFAS Festival of Arts 2023 at the Esplanade is an extension of her critically acclaimed album HOME, which she created with American composer and musician Aditya Prakash.
HOME follows the journey of Sushma Soma, as she reflects on her relationship with nature, environment, wildlife and consumer choices. From sharing her gratitude and love for the planet to disappointment and rage in the current state of the world, she also calls out her own complicity in the destruction of the natural world and the discrimination of the world around her that arises from her privilege.
Created with a unique soundscape, HOME brings together art forms one would not normally see on the same stage – Karnatik, Nadaswaram and Parai. From embodying the cry of an elephant, to protesting our collective destruction, to taking a playful jibe at mankind – voices and instruments come together with soundscapes from our everyday lives to take the audience through a journey that is familiar and yet challenging – hoping to shake one out of their apathy.
HOME is not just a story of one person, but it is the story of all of us and this beautiful, intricate and intelligent planet which we humans are lucky to inhabit with other incredible beings.
This performance of HOME was created in collaboration with multi-percussionist and
music producer Praveen Sparsh.
SIFAS Festival of Arts 2023 in Collaboration with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay as part of Raga Series presents HOME featuring Sushma Soma on vocals, Adyar D Balasubramani on Nadaswaram, N Deepan on Parai, M Rajendran on Thamuru, Sumesh Narayanan on Percussion and M Vijay on Satti.
Venue of Show: Esplanade Concert Hall
Date of Show: Sunday, 23rd April 2023
Timing of Show: 7.30pm (2 hours)
Price Categories: Cat 1 ($60), Cat 2 ($50), Cat 3 ($40)
Kathambam, a multi-genre and multi-ethnic musical concert, encompasses a kaleidoscope of melodies which draws inspiration from ancient poetry, Indian classical music, Folk music, Western elements, Oriental music and various languages.
Kathambam is a true amalgamation of Indian and western music, wherein songs from different parts of India are presented in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi/Urdu.
From Shlokas and Bharathiyaar to Qawwali and Sufi music, the showcase is sure to mesmerize its audience with soulful singing, uplifted by a fantastic ensemble.
Kathambam as part of SIFAS Festival of Arts 2023 in collaboration with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay will feature independent artists in Singapore, SIFAS teachers and alumni in a 20-piece ensemble unifying instruments of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities.
Venue of Show: Esplanade Theatre
Date of Show: Friday, 28th April 2023
Timing of Show: 7.30pm (2 hours with 20 mins intermission)
Price Categories: Cat 1 ($70), Cat 2 ($55), Cat 3 ($45)
An entirely original Odissi production by Sutra Foundation in collaboration with Guru Gajendra Kumar Panda, Jaya Ram brings to the stage the myth of Lord Rama, hero of the epic Ramayana.
While maintaining the format of traditional Odissi presentation, Jaya Ram is a unique Odissi production that infuses influences of indigenous folk genres in both music and
Commissioned to Guru Gajendra Kumar Panda, one of Odisha’s brilliant dance-makers and frequent collaborator of Sutra for the last 4 decades, Jaya Ram is the brainchild of the two Odissi powerhouses, Gajendra Panda and Ramli Ibrahim, that is a culmination of an in-depth research into the folk dance genres of South Odisha.
Distinguished experts from their respective fields in Odisha were brought on for further consultation on other aspects, including dance, music composition and libretto.
Revolving around Lord Rama, the work references primarily Ram Leela and Rama Natakam, but also draws inspiration from genres such as Daskathia and Sakhi Nata, traditional forms from the same region. It does not however attempt to replicate the concept of a dance drama or jatra, but stays true to the structure of presenting Odissi repertoire.
Jaya Ram can be viewed as a collage of primary episodes of the Ramayana which are familiar to the general audience. The images are then positioned within the context of Odissi traditional formats of Mangalacharan, Sthai, Pallavi etc.
The work centers on Lord Rama, and attempts to elaborate on the aspect of his personality as mahapurusha, the highest form of purusha (male principle) and as the upholder of righteous values and dharma as described by Valmiki in his Ramayana.
Sutra Foundation presented the world premiere of Jaya Ram, a highly anticipated event in the Malaysian dance calendar of 2022, and a befitting celebration of the 65-year anniversary of Malaysia-India bilateral diplomatic relations.
Jaya Ram will then embark on a Malaysia-India-Singapore Tour for its second season
ending the tour at The Esplanade Theatre on Friday, 28th April 2023 as part of the SIFAS Festival of Arts 2023.
Datuk Ramli Ibrahim
An accomplished ballet, modern and Indian classical dancer, Ramli Ibrahim has performed internationally for over four decades. As the artistic director of Sutra Dance Theatre, he has choreographed stunning works and nurtured some of the brightest dance talents from Malaysia. Since his return to Malaysia nearly forty years ago, he has been instrumental in transforming the dance scene in Malaysia, boldly charting new paths, establishing and elevating odissi and bharatanatyam as widely appreciated dance
forms that are part of the rich tapestry of Malaysian Dance.
Ramli Ibrahim studied bharatanatyam under Padma Shri Awardee, the late Adyar K Lakshman who was one of
the foremost bharatanatyam gurus of his generation. He himself has been honoured with many awards, the most recent being the Sangeet Natak Akademi award (2011), Datukship (2013) and the Padma Shri award (2018) from The Government of India.
To Ramli Ibrahim “Dance is a celebration and liberation of the body, mind and soul.”
Artist, Technical Director, Lighting Designer & Trustee, Sutra Foundation
Sivarajah Natarajan, pioneer Fine Arts graduate of the Malaysian Institute of Arts (MIA, 1992), crowned with his dreadlocks, himself a walking piece of Art, is also Sutra Foundation’s Trustee and Technical & Stage Director.
Siva, has, over more than 30 years of involvement with multiple world-dance forms, honed his lighting and stage design skills, winning stage awards along the way.
A figurative painter, Siva’s works on canvas portray the heightened states of form of beings and objects, taking the cue from the dance itself to capture motion in still form.
His works in visual arts influences his imagination in lighting and set design. His major contribution is in integrating the visual with the performing arts towards a unique assimilation with lighting design in theatre.
Siva says: “As with painting a picture on a white canvas, I believe in using light as my colour palette to set the desired tones and ambiance on stage”.
Sutra Foundation, a bastion of traditional and contemporary arts bequeathed to Malaysia by Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, was established as a full-fledged Foundation in 2007.
Sutra Foundation has been vital in sustaining Sutra’s activities when the arts face challenging times. It continues to provide Malaysia with activities in the performing arts (Sutra Dance Theatre), exhibitions (Sutra Gallery & KamaRia Gallery) and teaching (Sutra Academy).
Immense care goes into crafting a Sutra Production – be it in terms of impeccable design input, selection of dance talent, devising sets, costumes, lighting or graphics and marrying them to the conceptual and choreographic intent to assure a flawless production.
Sushma Soma – Vocals, Composer, Creator
Sushma Soma is an award-winning Karnatik vocalist. Recognised as one of the passionate ‘youths driving positive change through their actions’ and as one of the ’10 women leaders in music’ in Singapore, Sushma was awarded the Young Artist Award, the highest honour for young arts practitioners in Singapore.
As a collaborator and soloist, Sushma has performed in some of the world renowned stages and festivals including Kalaa Utsavam in Singapore, The Madras Music Academy, Kabira Festival in Varanasi, Jaipur Lit Fest, with Mythili Prakash at the Festival in Motion curated under the Qatar Creates series of performances for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and Reflektor Festival curated by Anoushka Shankar at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, amongst others.
Sushma is a part time lecturer at the National Institute of Education in Singapore and is a member on the advisory panel for the Singapore International Festival of Arts.
Sushma’s recent works focus on raising awareness about the environment and sustainability and finding her voice to express the same through her Karnatik training.
Her album HOME, created with American composer and musician Aditya Prakash, received critical acclaim. Reviewed as “One of the finest albums about environment and wildlife…”, tracks from HOME also featured in BBC Radio, Songlines Magazine, RollingStone India and NHK Japan.
The editor in chief of Songlines, Simon Broughton, also called HOME a ‘powerful statement about what we are doing to our planet and our en-vironment.’
Following her release of HOME, Sushma sang in the production ‘The Jungle Book Reimagined’, produced by Akram Khan Company. The production reinvented the journey of Mowgli through the eyes of a refugee caught in a world devastated by the impact of climate change.
Sushma also released a single with the label 99Chants on their latest album, Imaginary Landscapes, which seeks to raise awareness for climate change and sustainable solutions.
Sumesh Narayanan – Percussion
One of the most gifted and sought after Carnatic percussionists of the current generation, Sumesh Nara-yanan has trained with Mridangam Maestro Sangita Kalanidhi Dr Thiruvaarur Bakthavathsalam for two dec-ades and continues to learn from him.
Sumesh is a rare combination of a musician who aspires to master the rich traditions of the mridangam oeu-vre in the Carnatic style while retaining an open and larger world view which allows him to be part of many innovative and cross disciplinary ventures to which he is a vital contributor and much admired for his ideas and energetic playing.
Sumesh is also one of the creative directors of Sound Creed LLP – a record label company that aspires to create musical and artistic experiences that unifies the universal language of art and establishes a strong dialogue between the collaborators and the collaborations.
Adyar D Balasubramani – Nadaswaram
Adyar D Balasubramani is one of the most sought after Nadaswaram artists in Chennai. An All India Radio ‘A’ Grade Artist, he has been performing for the last 25 years in the leading Sabhas in and outside of Chen-nai. Having played in over 250 movies, Adyar D Balasubramani has also toured with various music directors including D Imman amongst others.
MT Aditya Srinivasan – Sound
M T Aditya Srinivasan is no stranger to the stage, having accompanied several renowned Indian classical musicians in concerts, such as Bombay Jayashri, M Balamuralikrishna, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Rakesh Chaurasia, Anuradha Sriram, Sriram Parasuram, Unnikrishnan, Ranjani-Gayatri, and Anil Srinivasan.
A graduate of the Berklee College of Music and a Fellow of The Institute for Creative Entrepreneur-ship, Berklee College of Music, Aditya performed as a multi-percussionist with the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, sharing the stage with the Berklee Indian Ensemble, Danilo Perez, Antonio Sanchez and other members of Paco de Lucia’s band, Bruno Raberg, and Allan Chase.
A recipient of the prestigious IRAA award in both 2019 and 2020, the latest in Aditya’s list of achievements is working with famed composers Anirudh Ravichander, Vidyasagar, and Sean Rol-dan on various successful projects.
Mythili Prakash – Dramaturg
Mythili Prakash belongs to a new generation of classical Indian dancers. She is one of the most celebrated and respected young Bharata Natyam dancer/choreographers today. A second genera-tion Indian and American artist, Mythili has positioned herself as a global and cosmopolitan artist through her unique experiences and collaborations. Her repertoire is an embodiment of narratives of the many worlds that shape her.
Raised in Los Angeles, she grew up in an environment filled with dance and music, under the watchful eye of her mother and teacher dance exponent Viji Prakash. Mythili began her performing career with her solo debut in India at the age of eight and has since performed extensively in pres-tigious venues and festivals throughout the world.
She has studied with several legendary stal-warts from India, and is trained and mentored by iconic artists Malavika Sarukkai and Akram Khan.
Nominated by Akram Khan as “choreographer of the future” for UK-based Dance Umbrella’s “Four by four commissions,” Mythili premiered her solo work “HERE and NOW” at their 2019 Festival.
In 2021 she received the National Dance Project Touring Grant from NEFA for She’s Auspicious, which previewed in Hamburg at the “Reflektor Festival” curated by musician Anoushka Shankar.
Mythili was also a principal dancer in Akram Khan Company’s “Outwitting the Devil,”
which toured internationally.
In 2022, she created a trilogy of pieces, beginning with AR | DHA – a commission for the 90th an-niversary festival of Jacob’s Pillow, and concluding with ONE | ALL for “Festival in Motion” one of the first of its kind site specific dance festivals in Qatar, surrounding the World Cup 2022.
Jaya Rathakrishnan – Script
Jaya Rathakrishnan is a Singaporean bilingual screenwriter for the local Indian television programmes in Singapore. She has written several screenplays for television dramas.
Her dramas in-clude Mani, Parambarai, Vettai (Pledged to Hunt) and Vyjayanthi – all of which went on to bag several awards. Parambarai was also critically acclaimed overseas.
Jaya has worked with Eaglevision, Mediacorp since 2001 with eleven years of experience in television production and screenwriting. She started off as an assistant producer and started specialis-ing in writing and producing thereafter.