SINGAPORE: Two artists were awarded the Cultural Medallion (CM), Singapore’s highest honour in the field of arts and culture, on Tuesday (Oct 24).
They are composer Law Wai Lun, who is known for his contributions to the development of the Nanyang Style in Chinese orchestral music; and author Jamal Bin Tukimin (Djamal Tukimin), a prolific writer best known for his poetry in the Malay literary arts scene in Singapore and the region.
The CM award, given to distinguished veteran artists, was conferred by guest-of-honour President Halimah Yacob at a ceremony held at the Istana.
Meanwhile, the Young Artist Award (YAA) was given to four individuals: Poet Joshua Ip, dancer-choreographer Yarra Ileto, conductor-composer Kahchun Wong, and visual artist Kray Chen.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu was on hand to present the YAA, which is given to promising artists aged 35 and below.
Shanghai-born Mr Law, 73, is recognised for developing the Nanyang Style in Chinese orchestral music, and he was also composer-in-residence at the Singapore Chinese Orchestra from 2012 to 2014. His works have premiered at notable events such as the National Day Parade, Singapore Arts Festival and Huayi Festival. This year, he was also conferred the Artistic Excellence Award by the Composers and Authors Society Of Singapore (COMPASS).
Mr Djamal, 71, has a practice that spans 50 years, with a prolific output that includes poetry, novels, plays and critical essays. He was also one of the founders of the Grup Gelorasa, a poetry group that helped spur the development of contemporary Malay literature in the 1970s. In 2007, he received the Anugerah Tun Seri Lanang, the highest literary award for Malay literature in Singapore.
Meanwhile, this year’s crop of YAA recipients have also proven themselves in their respective fields.
One of the notable figureheads among the new generation of Singapore poets, Mr Ip has published four books, including Sonnets From the Singlish, which was a joint-recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize. He also co-edited several anthologies, co-founded the popular Singapore Poetry Writing Month, runs the digital archive portal poetry.sg, as well as started the non-profit organisation Sing Lit Station.
Conductor-composer Mr Wong has been featured by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Singapore Chinese Orchestra many times, and is the artistic director of Asian Contemporary Ensemble. He is also one of the founders of the grassroots initiative Project Infinitude, which encourages children from diverse backgrounds to develop their musical talents. The winner of last year’s Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, Mr Wong was also recently appointed as the chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra.
Before striking out as an independent dancer-choreographer, the Australia-born Ms Ileto was one of the founding members of the contemporary dance group THE Dance Company – and the third member to receive the YAA. During her seven-year stint with the company, she not only performed but also created works for both the main company and its youth wing. She has also collaborated with The Arts Fission. Currently teaching at LASALLE College of the Arts and NUS Dancy Synergy, one of her next projects is The Immortal Sole at M1 Singapore Fringe Festival.
Meanwhile, Mr Chen is one of the more interesting multidisciplinary visual artists of his generation, presenting video, film and interactive installations that have been shown at Art Stage Singapore, the Esplanade Tunnel, the Singapore International Film Festival, among others.
Both the CM and YAA awards are administered by the National Arts Council (NAC). They come with a support grant of up to S$80,000 for the former to create projects, and up to S$20,000 for the latter to continue developing their artistic pursuits.
“The Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award recipients represent the pinnacle of Singapore’s artistic excellence and cultural creativity. As leaders in their fields who have contributed significantly to the rich tapestry of Singapore’s arts landscape, they inspire budding artists and Singapore audiences alike," said NAC chief executive Mrs Rosa Daniel in a press release.
"We are proud to celebrate their achievements which will go a long way in profiling Singapore on the global arts stage."