If you’re an art aficionado planning to visit the Lion City in the near future, you’ll definitely want a glimpse of the unforgettable experiences that are in store for you.
Our guide to Singapore’s thriving scene of galleries, orchestras and theatre companies are bound to expand your imagination, reimagine the possibilities of travel and help you schedule your trip around some of our island’s most esteemed institutions.
From riveting plays to exquisite orchestral performances, here’s a glimpse of the art that awaits you in our city.
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Since its first debut performance in 1979, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) has been enthralling both locals and travellers with its spectacular renditions of both classical works and contemporary pieces.
Singapore’s national orchestra makes its home at the Esplanade Concert Hall, but also holds regular performances at the Victoria Concert Hall.
While nothing beats listening to these musical maestros live, you can sample some of the symphony’s talents with the SSOPlayOn! website. This eclectic range of video and audio concerts showcase a range of compositions from renowned figures like Mozart and Shostakovich.
The SSO also boasts a YouTube Channel that features a range of performances from the orchestra’s archives. Be enthralled by the work of local composers like Kelly Tang, Leong Yoon Pin and Tan Chan Boon.
Singapore Symphony Orchestra. +65 6602 4200.
Singapore Chinese Orchestra
Inaugurated in 1997, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra is devoted to championing the rich traditions of Chinese music, and uplifting the spirits of music lovers.
Step into the orchestra’s home of the Singapore Conference Hall, and you’ll be mesmerised by the plaintive trill of the dizi (bamboo flute) and the enchanting strains of the huqin (Chinese spike fiddle), making it a must-visit for lovers of world music.
Music doesn’t only have to be experienced in a concert hall, and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra’s playfully named #DabaoSCO (dabao means ‘to take away’ in Mandarin) series broadcasts full-length concerts on their Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.
Immerse yourself in the realms of Mongolian Music, or be enchanted by the Strings Fantasy Concert—featuring internationally renowned violinist Lu Si Qing.
The orchestra’s other video series include #roomformusic—short performances that make for the perfect bite-sized dose of inspiration—and Human Diaries, a behind the scenes series that’s both heart-warming and educational.
Singapore Chinese Orchestra. +65 6557 4034.
The Necessary Stage
Helmed by local theatre stalwart Alvin Tan and with plays written by doyen playwright Haresh Sharma, The Necessary Stage is one of Singapore’s most renowned theatre companies.
The company’s critically-acclaimed productions—including Model Citizens and Those Who Can’t, Teach— foreground a myriad of social issues and riveting commentary.
The former examines the interwoven lives of a domestic worker, her employer and a politician’s wife, while the latter centres on the madcap lives of teachers and students in a seemingly ordinary school.
To whet your appetite for a live performance during your next visit, be sure to check out the company’s online archive, which includes a range of plays, interactive pieces and e-books for lovers of the performing arts.
Full monthly access is available at a nominal fee, and titles can be rented for a one-week streaming period.
The Necessary Stage. +65 6440 8115.
Esplanade—Theatres on the Bay
With its distinct spiky façade (which locals cheekily compare to a durian), Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is a regular stomping ground for lovers of the performing arts.
Its stages have been graced by a host of music concerts, plays and performances, from the postmodern ballet Impressing the Czar to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera.
Lovers of culture planning to catch a performance at this esteemed venue can preview the gems in store for them with Offstage. This all-access backstage pass boasts a range of virtual material to consume—from spoken word poems to illuminating interviews delving into the intricacies of the organ.
For more insights, check out Making A Scene, an Esplanade podcast that explores the inspiration (and perspiration!) that goes into the process of creating art.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981. +65 6828 8377.
Singapore Repertory Theatre
With shows that have premiered on Broadway and a host of accolades under its belt, Singapore Repertory Theatre is one of Asia’s leading theatre companies.
Its award-winning past productions—which include Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress and the Shakespeare in the Park annual event—have transported theatre lovers from the courts of the Qing Dynasty to the court of Athens.
The company’s online portal—Srt Digital—is home to a range of online material for lovers of the performing arts. Enjoy masterfully-recited monologues from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night or nurture your child’s creative streak with their weekly TLC Playhouse series.
Singapore Repertory Theatre. +65 6733 8166.