With the world still fighting hard to keep the COVID-19 pandemic in check, physical arts performances resumed with caution in Singapore, facing fresh setbacks with each flare up within the community.
Against this landscape, the UTOPIA Symphony world premiere concert in Singapore had to be postponed time and again, and The Foundation’s programmes redesigned for safety in accordance with prevailing government advisories.
In lieu of live performances, The Foundation rolled out 3 UTOPIA projects – the Roundtable Video Series; UTOPIA Library Exhibition Tour; and, UTOPIA Reimagined commissions. The Foundation also announced its second Iconic Initiative – the Music Commissioning Series, along with the series’ first commissioned composer, Dr Kelly Tang.
The Foundation aims for deep impact, to be a force of transformation. We sit in a space between government and genre-specific arts groups. We are not music, not visual, not performance – we are all of them.
Because of that, we are in a unique space and exceptionally positioned to support the best of our best artists. We set out to deal with the entire arts ecosystem – from creation to materialization to audience generation, from funding to education to promotion, from local context to global stage.
We succeed by applying a venture capitalist business model to selecting, designing, funding and promoting projects to deliver and maximise impact.
Hence, my call to action to you – join us on this journey to harness the transformational power of the arts that can change society, our future, and in the process, our inner selves.
Towards UTOPIA is a movement incubated by the Foundation for The Arts and Social Enterprise. It is a state of striving together to better ourselves, to better the lives of people around us.
Beginning as a symphony inspired by the island republic of Singapore, the UTOPIA movement brings together a local and international collective of musicians, artists, painters, businesses, community groups and everyday people to rethink what it truly means to live in happiness.
Two Singapore artists also featured prominently on the album project. The cover art was based on a painting called “Utopia” by an emerging visual artist Kenny Low and a young violinist Loh Jun Hong played the solo parts with the LPO on the recording. The immensity of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was not lost on Jun Hong, who later confessed that he was greatly moved by the music and vibes in the recording studio, and had to hold back emotion whilst playing.
The Foundation is dreaming big, to elevate this piece about Singapore to enter the annals of music history for posterity. Our aim is to have UTOPIA Symphony restaged in the major art capitals of the world, by orchestras around the globe. Singapore conductor Chiya Amos has been appointed Creative Advisor to advance this mission.
Roundtable Video Series
The Roundtable Video Series springboards off The Foundation’s first Iconic Initiative – UTOPIA Symphony, to start a conversation about the arts amongst younger audiences in Singapore.
Commissioned and produced by The Foundation as part of the One Million Towards UTOPIA movement, a perennial campaign to encourage Singapore to live better through the arts, the project also served as a platform to introduce The Foundation and its mission to the wider public.
UTOPIA Library Exhibition Tour
The UTOPIA story travelled to the heartlands via an exhibition tour, organised in partnership with the National Library Board of Singapore.
Initially conceptualised as a ‘live’ concert as part of the One Million Towards UTOPIA campaign back in 2019, plans for UTOPIA Reimagined had to be reworked as the feasibility of physical outreach efforts remained untenable at the beginning of 2021.
By mid-2021, UTOPIA Reimagined had morphed into a series of commissions to produce 4 music singles to be released on major digital streaming platforms, accompanied by behind-the-scenes video footage to provide insight into the artistes’ processes, and tell the story of utopia.
The 4 commissioned artistes were Joanna Dong, Aisyah Aziz, ShiGGa Shay, and Charlie Lim, some of Singapore’s current leading music artistes in their respective scenes. Singapore visual artist Kenny Low, original creator of the ‘Utopia’ artwork that graced the cover of the UTOPIA Symphony album, was also commissioned to reimagine his previous work for this project. Charlie Lim served as executive producer to direct the bigger-picture creative strategy.
Music Commissioning Series
A 10-year undertaking to make significant contributions to Singapore contemporary music, with the commissioning of major works by Singapore composers and systemically building up a canon of major Singapore music for the first time.
One of The Foundation’s key thrusts is the export of Singapore arts which depends greatly on the creation of original works by Singapore artists.
The idea of the Music Commissioning Series is to build up a canon of original and major music works in Singapore. There have been commissions before, but The Foundation believes in a broader approach to commissioning music across genres. This series captures what we are trying to do with the musical ecosystem. We are doing it thematically to cover different genres over a span of 10 years that can appeal to various audiences.
The first composer for the Music Commissioning Series is Dr Kelly Tang, a Singaporean composer known for wind band, chamber, and orchestral works. Dr Tang was conferred the Cultural Medallion in 2011 for his contributions to the local music scene.
Dr Tang plans to write a 30-40-minute work for a full orchestra of approximately 70 musicians. In a nod to Singapore’s heritage, this new suite will take inspiration from a curated selection of art works in the National Gallery Singapore’s collection.
The Foundation seeks to raise the first $2 million in donations from major funding Patrons to support the commissioned works in this iconic undertaking.