Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House

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On Sunday, I swung by Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, which re-opened to the public after a four-year refurbishment. Much of the original architecture, erected between 1902 and 1905 in honor of Queen Victoria, has been preserved, but the building’s facilities have been modernized to better serve as a mid-size venue for Singapore’s performing arts community.

This weekend’s open house featured guided tours and free performances by more than ten Singapore-based arts group, including Apsaras Arts’ excerpt of “Angkor: An Untold Story.” “Angkor” was one of the headline acts of the 2013 edition of Kalaa Utsavam, the Esplanade’s annual festival of Indian arts. Seeing “Angkor,” a dance-drama incorporating both Indian and Cambodian dance traditions, was quite a treat. Principle dancer Mohanapriyan Thavarajah, as Lord Shiva performing the Cosmic Dance of creation and destruction, was brilliant; his energy and stamina were inspiring.

Nearly 25,000 visitors thronged Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall this weekend, and while I wanted to catch more performances (especially those by Bhaskar’s Arts Academy, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, and Temple of Fine Arts), the queues were mad long!

The 675-seater Concert Hall is truly magnificent and the Theatre is intimate and inviting. (Remember, I moved to Singapore in 2010; this was my first look ever at Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.) I can’t wait to attend more performances in this space.

One response

  1. Was the refurbishment only four years? I remember it as a lifetime.

    I have many childhood memories of VCH. Before the orchestra moved to the Esplanade, my parents worked there. Sometimes they brought me along to concerts, and I would spend the evening playing backstage.

    At that time the backstage area was totally open: you could get to it through the doors on the left and right of the concert hall. You would go up a short flight of stairs, pass the stage itself (and the doors would be open!) and then go down a short flight of stairs to the backstage area.

    I spent a lot of time lolling about on those old sofas and going to the women’s changing rooms. When I was a little older, it was my job to watch the other musicians’ kids and make sure they kept quiet (since the area was so open any hoo-ha we made would have been audible in the concert hall). Musicians also took turns to get their kids to dress up and present flowers to soloists, and that kid would be the “special one” of the evening, looking all smart and sitting very carefully backstage to wait for the exact right time to go onstage with the flowers. It was pretty sweet.

    When I was eight my mum also got me into the kids chorus of Arion & The Dolphin, which meant even more time running about VCH while covered in silver glitter. A part of me was disappointed to find the doors locked now upon refurbishment!