How do we get to utopia?
What does utopia even look like for Singapore arts?
Feeding off the spirit and momentum of the UTOPIA Symphony, The Foundation is kindling a movement. A movement that aims to engage as many people as possible in Singapore and beyond. The One Million Towards UTOPIA campaign was inspired by Martynov’s idea of utopia. And it is a long game that starts with a conversation about the arts.
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.
The arts is a creative impulse that can make life better. It’s an idea that doesn’t live just in our heads, but thrives in our hearts.
The arts is in all of us.
“The timing of the One Million Towards UTOPIA launch is serendipitous as COVID-19 has deprived many of us of jobs, travel and social interactions. It has forced us to redefine the meaning of life achievements. It is meant to give us hope for a better future.”
Michael Tay, Founder of the Foundation for The Arts and Social Enterprise
Due to COVID-19 and the resulting pause on live performances, the world premiere concert of UTOPIA Symphony in Singapore had to be postponed not once, but twice. However, plans are still in place for the symphony to eventually premiere “live” in concert at Singapore’s landmark arts venue the Esplanade, performed by the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, conducted by Professor Chan Tze Law (Yong Siew Toh Conservatory).
When Foundation Founder Michael Tay was in Moscow as Ambassador, he had commissioned Vladimir Martynov, a major Russian composer, to compose a choral symphony about Singapore. The “SINGAPORE” Symphony was premiered in 2005 in Moscow and 2007 in Singapore. The Singapore premiere was performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and attended by the late President S R Nathan and MM Lee Kuan Yew. Commissioning the “SINGAPORE” Symphony was a venture to alter the Russian perception of Singapore and to bind the two countries closer.
To transform the symphony from a bilateral project into a universal undertaking, the English version of the symphony was renamed “UTOPIA”, as that was the original impulse of Martynov’s composition. Martynov was very taken by the idea of “Singapore”, using “utopia” to describe the constant striving to excel and exceed its limitations. Utopia, for Martynov, was not a destination or a state of being, but a process of becoming and striving to do better. He compared Singapore to the Tao – “The Tao that can be described is no longer the Tao” – which is reflected in the choral part of the symphony.
It is a great honour for a foreign composer of Martynov’s stature to be inspired by our humble island into writing a symphony. For an orchestra of the LPO’s stature to record and release the piece under its own label, is a mini coup. But this is just the beginning.
Inspired by Our Partners.
We are proud to work with organizations and companies that share our vision to bring Singapore artists to the global stage. To this end, The Foundation’s partners provide crucial funding, awareness, and resources to further our mission in support of a vibrant arts ecosystem.
Whether it’s collaborating with us on content, helping to spread the word, or committing dollars to further showcase the arts as a win-win bridge between business and the community, The Foundation partners are an essential part of our ongoing work. With their help and commitment, we are making strides towards achieving One Million Towards UTOPIA.
UTOPIA Symphony is inspired by the island republic. The vision is to bring the symphony to the global stage to become a universal work for the annals of music history.
On November 13, 2020, the recording was released by the world-renowned London Philharmonic Orchestra’s classical music label for international release on all major digital platforms: Spotify, Apple Music, and Primephonic, as well as in a CD format on Amazon Music.
And this is just the beginning.
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.