Esplanade to launch concerts and programming about Singapore popular music under PopLore banner
Written by ABR on 20/01/2022
Singapore’s Esplanade – Theatres On The Bay has unveiled PopLore, a yearlong programme all about popular music in the country.
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Organised to coincide with the arts centre’s 20th anniversary this year, PopLore will entail 10 live concerts, a podcast series, an exhibition, a video series and more. The programming will explore popular music in Singapore from the 1960s to the present, involving veteran musicians central to the country’s musical development as well as contemporary favourites and rising artists.
PopLore programming kicked off on New Year’s Day with the concert Gemilang, a celebration of iconic Malay music, and will continue all the way through 2022, with a New Year’s Eve performance at the Outdoor Theatre on the cards. In February, Nathan Hartono, Olivia Ong, Ruth Kueo and more will perform at XingPop 2.0, a night dedicated to Singapore’s Mandarin pop music. March will see shows celebrating Getai and Pop Yeh Yeh, while beloved entertainer Dick Lee and jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro will headline their own concerts in June and July, respectively.
On September 16, singer-songwriter Charlie Lim will take to the Esplanade Concert Hall with his band the Mothership and a slate of younger artists, who have yet to be named. Lim and the Mothership will work together with these artists to rearrange their music and collaborate with each other songs.
The Esplanade has also commissioned a documentary podcast series titled PopLore: Stories of Singapore Pop, that hosts interviews with over 25 industry figures, including radio veteran Brian Richmond, singer and Cultural Medallion holder Rahimah Rahim, Dick Lee and The Padres member Joe Ng. Its first episode about the origins of Singapore pop, hosted by PopLore creative consultant Lim Sek, launched today. Stream it below:
In a media briefing, Esplanade Communications & Content Head Clarissa Oon said that those interviewed for the podcast discussed navigating what she referred to as the “two Ps”: “puritan and pragmatic impulses” in the regulation of Singapore’s music scene. Interviewees also talked about the challenges making music in a city “at a cultural crossroads”, she said, and how local artists face global competition in securing audiences.
The Esplanade revealed that the podcast, which is produced by Hong Xinyi and Dorothy Ding, had wanted to reach out to Chris Ho for an interview, but did not manage to do so before his death last year from stomach cancer. Ho’s legacy as a musician, radio DJ and journalist is touched on in the podcast in an episode on Singapore’s English-language pop music from the ’90s to 2010s – and may even be highlighted at this year’s edition of annual alternative music festival Baybeats.
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Other educational programming planned for PopLore in August include a year-long exhibition at the Esplanade Concourse about local live music venues and their cultural significance, as well as a video series “demystifying Singapore pop” that is targeted at those aged 16 to 26.
In the media briefing, the Esplanade’s Head of Music Amy Ho indicated that though current PopLore programming runs through 2022 to tie into the arts centre’s 20th anniversary, PopLore could possibly extend beyond the year and expand its focus to other facets and genres of Singapore music such as electronic and dance music, which has been particularly hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions.
Through PopLore, the Esplanade “want to do something to galvanise the music scene which has been badly hit by the pandemic and to renew a sense of community after a prolonged period of being physically apart for many of us,” Esplanade programmer Melissa Poon said in a press statement.
“Hopefully this common platform will let the different generations of music talents appreciate each other more and move together towards a future where our music talents can gain strong collective support, not only from Singaporeans, but also the international community,” commented PopLore creative consultant Lim Sek.
More info about PopLore and its programming can be found on the Esplanade’s website.
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