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Anoushka Shankar to perform at Kalaa Utsavam 2022 in Singapore

Indian culture spans myriad art forms and genres over its long history. Over the past two decades, Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of Arts has been a champion of Indian cultural heritage.

Esplanade's annual celebration of Indian culture returns from November 18 to 27, and early bird tickets for Esplanade&Me (E&Me) members go on sale tomorrow while general ticket sales begin on September 8.

Kalaa Utsavam 2022 welcomes the return of international artists such as sitarist Anoushka Shankar
Kalaa Utsavam 2022 welcomes the return of international artists such as sitarist Anoushka Shankar. Photo courtesy: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay/Laura Lewis

As the first Indian arts festival with a multi-genre focus in Southeast Asia, Kalaa Utsavam has sought to develop and support both international and Singapore artistes, all telling their unique stories. The festival builds on the relationships developed over the years with artists and arts groups, while also introducing new and exciting artists and art forms.

 Photo courtesy: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
Anoushka will be joined by her long-term collaborator Manu Delago as well as Orchestra of the Music Makers, one of Singapore’s leading symphony orchestras. Photo courtesy: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay/Yong Junyi

Kalaa Utsavam 2022 welcomes British-Indian-American sitarist Anoushka Shankar for the first time at the festival. Apparently the talented musician's first performance in Singapore.

Festival also sees the return of leading local groups with newly co-produced works by Apsaras Arts, Bhaskar’s Arts Academy and playwright A Yagnya. Exciting and upcoming musicians such as Punjabi outfit Band Walle, Tamil group D.N.S.V and a night of soul and R&B with singer-songwriter Shak’thiya will also feature at the festival.

Master Sitarist Anoushka Shankar will be playing her inimitable brand of music with homegrown symphony Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM) under the baton of Joshua Tan.

The late Santha Bhaskar's life and times will be celebrated in Marabu - Footprints Of An Artist.
The late Santha Bhaskar's life and times will be celebrated in Marabu - Footprints Of An Artist. Photo courtesy: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

In addition, Nadasukham - Opening Music will feature pre-eminent Carnatic musician and scholar TM Krishna in a unique collaboration with Nadaswaram artists Sheik Mahaboob and Smt Kaleeshabi Mahaboob.

Homegrown collaborations also feature in theatre and dance productions as well as workshops, talks and a slew of free programmes. 

The late Santha Bhaskar's life and times will be celebrated in Marabu - Footprints Of An Artist. This final installment of the Marabu trilogy is directed and choreographed by Bhaskar's daughter Meenakshy Bhaskar from a script by playwright Alfian Sa'at who is also the dramaturg.

Two generations of theatre practitioners also work together on 'Between 5 Cows And The Deep Blue Sea'.

 Photo courtesy: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
get ready to party with musicians Harsha Channa, The Band Walle and Joshiley Bhangra as they play the rollicking genre of Bhangra in 'Raula - A Punjabi Night'. Photo courtesy: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

Playwright A Yagnya tells the story of Girl, the central character who is caught between traditional matchmaking customs and modern dating mores in this production directed by The Necessary Stage's Alvin Tan.

Apsaras Arts offers an international collaboration in 'Arisi: Rice', a multidisciplinary production which takes as inspiration the dietary staple that unites Asia. Dance vignettes combine classic Bharatanatyam with Balinese dance elements choreographed by Professor I Wayan Dibia. Acclaimed director K Rajagopal will add film storytelling while the soundscape will include Balinese gamelan and kecak choric singing as well as music by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

There will be pop culture offerings too. In line with the Esplanade's PopLore programme which celebrates Singapore music throughout this year, Vasantham Live will explore the Indian pop music scene. Artists Shabir Tabare Alam and Murali Krishnan will anchor the programme, which will also feature emerging singer-songwriters from the scene.

 Photo courtesy: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
Nadasukham - Opening Music will feature pre-eminent Carnatic musician and scholar TM Krishna (pictured) in a unique collaboration with Nadaswaram artists Sheik Mahaboob and Smt Kaleeshabi Mahaboob. Photo courtesy: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

And get ready to party with musicians Harsha Channa, The Band Walle and Joshiley Bhangra as they play the rollicking genre of Bhangra in 'Raula - A Punjabi Night'.

More lighthearted fare comes from comedian Rishi Budhrani who has built a show around his tailor father's life experiences in 'Can I Make You A Suit, Mate?', while families with children can look out for 'An Indigo Jackal', a fresh retelling of a classic fable by storyteller Kamini Ramachandran and playwright-director Grace Kalaiselvi.

Esplanade is Singapore’s national performing arts centre. The centre works in close partnership with local, regional and international artists to develop artistic capabilities and content, push artistic boundaries and engage audiences. Here's a list of some of the most exciting events linedd up for Kalaa Utsavam 2022.

Vasantham Live!
Murali Krishnan and Shabir
Date & Time: November 18, 2022 - 8pm
Venue: Esplanade Theatre

Vasantham Live returns! In conjunction with PopLore, this iteration will encompass the advent of the Indian pop scene. Anchoring this performance are artists Shabir Tabre Alam and Murali Krishnan, who will be belting out their popular original tunes and songs from their independent albums. They will be flanked by a slew of Vasantham artists, who are emerging singer-songwriters, as well as celebrity hosts.

RAULA – A Punjabi Night 
Harsha Channa, The Band Walle and Joshiley Bhangra
Date & Time: November 18, 2022 - 8pm
Venue: Esplanade Annexe Studio

Come relish and celebrate the myriad forms of Punjabi culture in this evening of music and dance! Harsha, KisH (Prem Kishan) and The Band Walle will present a repertoire of songs that put Punjabi music on the world map, beginning with music by folk artist Surinder Kaur to current headlining artists such as Diljit Dosanjh and Jasmin Sandlas. Be wowed by Joshiley Bhangra from Singapore’s vibrant Bhangra scene as well.

Marabu – Footprints of an Artist
Bhaskar’s Arts Academy
Date & Time: November 18-20, 2022 (8pm Friday, 3pm and 8pm Saturday and Sunday)
Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio

Following the presentation of Marabu – The First Ripple and Marabu – The Forgotten Sentinels, Bhaskar’s Arts Academy premieres the final instalment of the trilogy, Marabu – Footprints of an Artist. As a tribute to the late pioneer artist Santha Bhaskar, this work traces her journey from her humble origins in Kerala, India, to the blossoming of her career as a dancer and choreographer in Singapore. Santha Bhaskar’s daughter, Meenakshy Bhaskar, directs and choreographs this dance biopic, featuring music composition by BV Balasai, script and dramaturgy by Alfian Sa’at.

Anoushka Shankar
with Orchestra of the Music Makers featuring Manu Delago (Singapore/UK)
Date & Time: November 19-20, 2022 (7:30pm)
Venue: Esplanade Concert Hall

With more than a quarter-century's worth of performing experience behind her, Anoushka Shankar is a singular, genre-defying artist who crosses multiple realms—from classical to contemporary, acoustic to electronic. For the first time in Singapore at Kalaa Utsavam, the masterful sitarist collaborates with other outstanding musicians for a truly transcendent performance. Anoushka will be joined by her long-term collaborator Manu Delago—a master composer and performer in his own right—as well as Orchestra of the Music Makers, one of Singapore’s leading symphony orchestras. The show will be conducted by Joshua Tan.

Can I Make You a Suit, Mate?
Rishi Budhrani
Date & Time: November 25-26, 2022 (7:30pm)
Venue: Esplanade Recital Studio

This is a story of survival, Singapore and a suit: Be regaled with the many tales of a business owner of over four decades as a Singaporean tailor details his time in the country. Created by celebrated comedian Rishi Budhrani - this semi-improvised comedic monologue is an amalgamation of material inspired by his father’s own journey.

ARISI : Rice
Apsaras Arts Dance Company (Singapore, Indonesia & India)
Date & Time: November 25-26, 2022 (8pm)
Venue: Esplanade Theatre

Apsaras Arts is proud to present ARISI : Rice, a cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary performance inspired by the grains of life that link humanity across Asia. It is inspired by multiple rich facets of social, cultural and aesthetic practices borne by cultivation and consumption of rice in the region. In a shift away from epic storytelling, award-winning artistic director Aravinth Kumarasamy has imagined the dance production as episodic vignettes that intersect stages of rice cultivation with gestural rites and rituals.

Between 5 Cows and the Deep Blue Sea…
A Yagnya
Date & Time: November 25-27, 2022 (8pm Friday; 3pm & 8pm Saturday & Sunday)
Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio 

'Between 5 Cows and the Deep Blue Sea...' follows Girl as she struggles to come to terms with her identity, and battles with societal expectations heaped upon her. Where will this internal tug of war take her? Playwright A Yagnya is a collaborative theatre maker and Japanese translator who enjoys creating socially conscious works that challenge her audience into breaking out of their echo chambers. 

Read more about Kalaa Utsavam and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay here.

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CtoI News Desk
CtoI News Desk – CtoI

Singapore-headquartered online media company targeting Indian Diaspora across Singapore, US, UK, India and UAE. Connected to India covers developments around NRIs. Cover arts, political, sports, finance, entrepreneurship, business, movies, dramas, entertainment and other news for Indians living worldwide.

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