SINGAPORE: Five arts practitioners were given top honours on Wednesday for their outstanding contributions to Singapore’s arts and culture.
They received the Cultural Medallion from Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana.
When Milenko Prvacki left Yugoslavia to come to Singapore in 1992, there was more interest in art that showed human figures and had story—telling, as opposed to his form of abstract art which focuses on shapes.
But with time, the 61—year—old overcame critics and gained respect for his work through numerous honours and awards.
As a teacher at LASALLE College of the Arts, Mr Prvacki said his approach is to be unimposing.
"It’s not good to insist on your own practice and language and how you work, but to open young artists up, to make them think for themselves, (and to) find a way for their own language," he said.
For theatre practitioner Thirunalan Sasitharan, he said the way to converse with his students is through discipline, focus and dedication.
His Intercultural Theatre Institute was founded in 2000 to train aspiring contemporary theatre performers.
"Nowadays, anyone who can string a sentence together, anyone who can walk with a book on his or her head, anyone who looks even passably good thinks they can act. Acting is not about those things. Acting is about a kind of magic that transforms an audience," he said.
An audience can also be transformed through music — a challenge which 50—year—old Jennifer Tham has taken on as the conductor of the Singapore Youth Choir.
From festivals to symposiums, she has helped shape the direction and practice of contemporary choral music.
While her days are long, Ms Tham said she has yet to grow weary of it.
"I can go into a rehearsal really tired but by the end of the rehearsal I am so inspired and have so much energy because we are having so much fun, making so much music and they understand what it’s about," she said.
Other cultural medallion recipients include writer JM Sali, whose short stories and plays have won him numerous honours; and visual artist Ho Ho Ying, a pioneer of Singapore’s modern art movement.
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