Sunday, February 8, 2015

Memorable Moments During Celebrate December 2014


December is always considered a joyous month. There's Christmas, there's New Year celebrations on that last day of the month and there's also a wide array of performances and celebrations to end off the year. One of them is Celebrate December organised by the Esplanade Theatres. Since I've visited the 2013 edition of the event (which you can read here), I've decided to check out the 2014 version as well on the last week of the month. Now, let me share with you some of the great things I've experienced during the two-week long music festival.

What is Celebrate December?


Celebrate December is an annual music festival organised by the Esplanade Theatres which typically runs on the last two weeks of December. The festival's main aim is to actually end the year off well. Celebrate December usually consists of installations, activities, concerts as well as performances. It's a great event to spend time with your family and it's a great way to end off the year as the last day of the music festival is usually the countdown to the new year joined by a bunch of local singing groups and local bands.


Performances During Celebrate December


I went for two days of Celebrate December; the first one was on Monday 29 December and the second was on Tuesday 30 December. The reason why was because on Monday 29th, there was only one performance available so I decided to continue to watch another one on the next day. Monday's performance featured two local artistes, Magdalene Wong and Karen Chou who performed using the violin and the harp. They played soulful melodies, original songs and contemporary pop songs as well. They performed at the Esplanade's concourse it was almost full house.


Midway through the performance, they invited a local singer and music teacher and she sang her own rendition of popular love song, All Of Me by John Legend with the music supplied by the two ladies. The night was indeed a soulful night thanks to the soulful melodies they played during the performance and the performance was definitely worth watching.



On the next day, the performance was, to me, a special performance. The concert was more of like a hybrid of a musical, play and cooking demonstration. The performance was called The Singing Chef by local chef, Miss Irene Jansen, who is also a host of one of the Asian Food Channel's TV show. Basically, the plot is about a family who just moved in and didn't know that much about their neighbours. They invited them over and learned more about the neighbours while Miss Jansen was busy preparing the dishes.


Miss Jansen even showed us the dishes that she prepared live on stage with LCD TVs facing the audience giving a close up view. Some of the dishes she prepared include some jellies, a whole chieken and the Roti Jala. It would really be awesome if she could let the audience taste some of the food but I think she doesn't mainly because there might not be enough for everyone. At some points during the performance, the 'neighbours' broke out in song and dance, singing and dancing to various things.


One of my favourite moments of the performance was that during one of the songs, a few people in the audience stood up and sang along with their own set of microphones. It really shocked me as one of them stood right in front of me and belted out a song with his microphone. Turns out that those people who stood up and sang were from a local choir group with Miss Jansen's father being one of them. The performance was that amazing and too bad it only lasted for about 30 to 45 minutes. It certainly was one of the most outstanding performances held at the Esplanade Concourse.

Installations at the Esplanade Theatres


Unfortunately, as I visited the Esplanade one week after the first Celebrate December performance, the performances were mainly held at the Esplanade Concourse and not the Outdoor Theatre. The Outdoor Theatre would be reserved for the Countdown show that was going to be held on the 31st of December. However, there were still a lot of great things to check out at the Esplanade especially the art installations they placed all over the Theatres.


At the basement leading up to the main Esplanade building, there was a wall that featured pictures of different faces. You may not recognise who they are but their faces are there for a reason. The installation is about a project by a guy called Choy Ka Fai who wanted to know more about contemporary dances all around Asia.

The project is called Softmachine and through this project, he travelled to various Asian countries, learned about the different contemporary dances the countries and interviewed the contemporary dance-makers. Through the gallery, passers by can actually learn more about the dances and the people behind them. The project also hopes to inspire new choreographic experiments and creation. I found the project interesting and it's amazing to see the curator of the project and the dance-makers go through the length to continue the traditional dances and spread to more people about these dances that many people may not even heard or seen before.


Right after I checked out a performance at the Esplanade Concourse, I came across this art installation that was located right behind the stage called the Revision Of The Optics by a New Zealand artist, Tifanny Singh. According to the synopsis found on the Esplanade's website, the installation has lots of colours and bells as a tribute to the bells themselves that were being used from the ancient times for religious and ceremonial purposes. The colours used in the installation was a tribute to the coming together of joy and the celebration of positive forces.

As there were bells attached to the installation, the wind coming from the entrance of the Esplanade Theatres will make the installations sway slightly from left to right and the bells attached would ring. It's a really interesting installation and the colours along with the bells just makes it look so calming just by looking at it.


Right beside the Softmachine exhibit, there was a screen projecting short films created by local filmmakers. The short films were made up of different topics and storylines and unfortunately, I did not really have the time to actually watch through the whole thing so I can't really give you that much information about them. The way the short films were presented was really cool though as the film was screened into three different sections of different angles.

Plus, the sound was excellent and there was a small bench for you to sit on for you to enjoy the films. Although, it can be quite distracting as there are people who keep walking past you while you're busy enjoying the films. There are a new batch of short films currently being shown at the tunnel leading to the Esplanade so perhaps if you have the time, do make a trip down and watch some local films for free.

New Year Related Installations


Although this isn't really related to the Esplanade Theatres nor are they located in the Esplanade, these installations were still pretty interesting to share. Firstly, there was a projection mapping display at the historical Fullerton Hotel where from 8.15pm onwards, a showcase of different Singapore icons was featured during the screening with a special rendition of the iconic National Day song, Home, being played in the background.


The projection mapping was actually part of SG50, which is Singapore's initiative to celebrate 50 years of independence (Singapore became fully independent on 9 August 1965). The screening lasted for about two minutes but the extended version was shown at around 11pm on the 31st of December. It was cool to see the projection mapping though I wish that they will still show it again. Perhaps on National Day on the 9th of August?

New Year Wishing Spheres at the Marina Bay Area


At the Marina Bay area, thousands of floating plastic spheres can be seen. It's a yearly tradition where Singaporeans will visit booths set up around the island for them to pen their wishes onto the plastic spheres for the upcoming year. As 2015 is also the year where Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence, many Singaporeans also penned their wishes of what they wish to see in the next 50 years as well.


Just like years before, the plastic spheres will then be placed at the Marina Bay area in the hopes that the wishes that were being penned down will come true for those who penned their wishes. These "Wishing Spheres" were also a great a opportunity for Singaporeans to reflect on what they have done for the past year and what they wish to see in the upcoming year. Oh and above is a picture of how a typical 'Wishing Sphere' looks like up close.

Conclusion

Celebrate December 2014 may be long over but that doesn't mean that celebrations, performances, installations and short films will no longer be happening at the Esplanade Theatres. There will be plenty of such things throughout the year so you don't have to wait all the way until December to see these wonderful activities.

Celebrate December was really a wonderful event and it's also a great way to end off the year. Plus, as 2015 is the year of SG50, things got more exciting. For more information about Celebrate December or maybe you want to find out more about what other activities (particularly free ones) that the Esplanade Theatres might offer, you can check out their always up-to-date website.

More Information

Esplanade Website: http://www.esplanade.com/

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