Photography: Julia Lynn

The Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) returns to our shores this September with the promise of the impending future.

Focusing on the notion of infinite possibilities, this year’s Festival is titled, “Potentialities,” and boasts a myriad of artistic flourishes—across various mediums of performance, theatre, dance and music.

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Wu Man shared with us the meaning of her name, "My parents gave me the name 'Man' which means 'wild/savage', which is very rare for one to have in their name. Many have misunderstood that my name meant singing merrily and dancing gracefully. There are a few levels of meanings in my name, one as told from my father, is from the tune in China western regions*- the singing and dancing. Another meaning is to the hope for girls to be stronger, wilder." – Indeed, like her name, she successfully crafted a name for herself as a pipa musician with sheer determination and a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. – Through numerous concert tours Wu Man has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions. Her adventurous spirit and virtuosity have led to collaborations across artistic disciplines, allowing Wu Man to reach wider audiences as she works to break through cultural and musical borders. – "A 'Wuman' who heralds 'a force of nature'”, Wu Man has not only introduced Chinese traditional music to new audiences, but is also a key person who inspires contemporary composers." – Gramophone Magazine – Wu Man was named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, marking the first time this highly prestigious award being bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument. Musical America commented that "She is the very model of a modern soloist, but more importantly, her work is part of a big step in the evolution of Western classical music. Thanks to her, the pipa is no longer an exotic curiosity, let alone a complete mystery." – In Borderlands, Wu Man joins forces with the magnificent Sanubar Tursun and outstanding instrumentalists to perform a body of music comprised of newly arranged traditional songs, improvisations and instrumental pieces, producing contemporary sounds of the historically kindred musical worlds. Come experience this extraordinary musical work 🙂 *The western regions (a han dynasty term for the area west of yumenguan 玉门关, including what is now xinjiang and parts of central asia) ✨ Borderlands 15, 16, 17 September, 8pm

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“I proposed a trilogy looking at the past, present and future. SIFA reviewed the past with 20th-century legacies in 2014, understood the present with our post-empires condition in 2015, and, in 2016, we investigate the future by examining potentialities,” explains Festival Director and famed Cultural Medallion recipient, Ong Keng Sen.

Guests can expect to immerse themselves in highly-interactive installations and performances, scattered across nine venues in the heart of the island’s Arts and Heritage District. Now into its final weekend, the event is set to nurture hope, inspire imagination and spark creative conversation.

Visit for more information.

By Adriel Chiun