Singapore Season at the New Zealand International Arts Festival


~ 27 February to 21 March 2004 ~


The New Zealand International Arts Festival will feature, for the first time, a special Singapore season with programmes to tease arts connoisseurs, the family and school audiences alike!  Starring familiar names in the performing, visual and literary arts, this will be the largest presentation of Singapore artists in any one international festival.  They include singer Jacintha Abisheganaden, Chinese string quartet Huqin Quartet, theatre group Wild Rice, visual artist Iskandar Jalil and author Christine Suchen Lim.


The National Arts Council is delighted to present an unprecedented number of Singapore artists in a single festival across the fields of music, theatre, visual arts and literature.  Ms Goh Ching Lee, Director of Programmes and International Development at the National Arts Council, remarks “We are delighted that for the first time, a large group of artists across different art genres have been invited by an international festival.  We hope to develop similar outcomes in partnership with more overseas festivals and venues to create greater visibility for our artists on the international stage.”


The Council has been at the forefront of profiling Singapore artists overseas, actively securing participation in significant arts events like the Venice Biennale, Gwangju Biennale, Ars Electronica Festival, Melbourne Festival, Festival International Cervantino, Austin International Poetry Festival and CINARS Arts Mart, to name a few.  In its efforts to introduce Singapore artists to the New Zealand market, the Council invited festival programmers from New Zealand to attend the Singapore Arts Festival and special showcase programmes, under its International Visitor scheme.  These efforts have borne fruit, with the New Zealand festival programming Singapore artists such as T’ang Quartet and Suzann Victor in its 2002 festival, and now, incorporating a Singapore Season in its 2004 festival.     


The New Zealand International Arts Festival is the largest and most successful cultural event in New Zealand.  Reputedly the highlight of Wellington’s summer every two years, the festival will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.    More information on the New Zealand International Arts Festival is available at


Jacintha Abisheganaden, one of Singapore’s best known singers, will be performing jazz classics like Cry Me A River, Moon River, I’m In The Mood For Love, Manha da Carnival and many more favourites.  She will be accompanied by Iskandar Ismail on piano and Joshua Wan on bass guitar. 


Huqin Quartet, the world’s first permanent quartet comprising solely Chinese string instruments, looks poised to effortlessly transverse between traditional Chinese music and familiar Western works.  The concert includes a number of recent works specially written by local composers Phoon Yew Tien and Dr Ho Chee Kong. 


Directed by multiple award-winning actor Ivan Heng, WILD RICE will be bringing to life George Orwell’s most celebrated novel, Animal Farm.  Combining physical theatre, innovative design with live and original music, this “Made In Singapore” production promise to inspire, challenge and entertain New Zealand audiences as it did in its sold out seasons in Singapore.  


For this festival presentation, Singapore’s foremost ceramic artist, Iskandar Jalil, has created 29 new works to be exhibited at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.  The exhibition will be a stunning showcase of dream creations, of brilliant blue oxide colourings, rough earth textures and glaze recipes of asian origin like shino, ash and celadon.


In the literary arts, Singapore Literature Prize recipient Christine Suchen Lim will participate in the 2004 New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week, discussing family, home and multi-ethnicity issues.  In addition, she will be doing a dramatized reading of Roger Williams’ latest play, Lingua, and share her personal experience as an author. 


Visuals of artists and brochure on the Singapore Season are available upon request. 


Annex - Synopses of the performances.