6 spiritual experiences coming to Singapore this April

First held in 2009, A Tapestry of Sacred Music is one of the Esplanade’s signature programs, celebrating music and artistry inspired by faith. Over the past decade, it has showcased the talents and devotion of members of more than 20 spiritual traditions, accounting for about 60 cultural communities from around the world. Since 2017, the festival has been made completely free for all to enjoy, so that there exist no barriers to this aural and visual celebration of our shared humanity. From the mountains of Taiwan to the chapels of 17th-century Europe, be prepared to go on a journey through space and time from April 18 to 21. Here are six unmissable highlights.

Arvo Part PASSIO: St John Passion in the Dark

You’ve heard of dining in the dark, and how it heightens your senses—now you can experience one of the 20th century’s most intense and sublime musical works in the dark too. Written by Estonian composer Arvo Part, PASSIO is a retelling of the Passion of Christ, the story of the days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. Already regarded as one of the most visceral Passion settings, the work will be given a whole new dimension by the absence of light. Soloists from the Choir from the St James’, Sydney, and Schola Cantorum Singapore will perform, led by Australian conductor Michael Leighton Jones. Apr 19

Iwami Kagura: Heroes and Demons/Slaying of the Eight-Headed Serpent

The Hamada Iwami Kagura Association presents two works that delve into the mythology and history of Shintoism, set in an age when gods and demons walked, and did battle, on earth. A form of traditional ritual theater, Iwami Kagura features masked dancers in colorful costumes who perform to a mesmerizing musical backdrop of drums, cymbals and bamboo flutes. Apr 19–21

Jubilate! Pipe Organ Recital

If you’ve never had the opportunity to hear a pipe organ performed in person, you’re in for a treat. Singapore’s largest pipe organ will be played by celebrated pipe organ recitalist Jennifer Chou. Born in Hong Kong and based at the Toorak Uniting Church in Melbourne, Australia, Chou has performed at some of the world’s most storied houses of worship, including Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and London’s Westminster Abbey. The program promises to be joyous and vibrant. Be sure to sign up for one of the post-show backstage tours to get a closer look at the pipe organ. Apr 21

The Song of Life

Hailing from the highlands of Taiwan, the Bunun are an indigenous people who use singing as a means of communication and expression. The Song of Life is a collection of Bunun songs which cast light on their way of life—their prayers, their rituals and their experiences. It will be performed by the Bunun Mountain Traditional Music Chorus, a group formed in 1986 to preserve the tribe’s culture and history, accompanied by Taiwanese cellist Annie Chang. Apr 20 & 21

From Darkness to Light: Intimate Sacred Music of Baroque Europe

Performed by Singapore’s own period ensemble, Red Dot Baroque, From Darkness to Light takes you to the private chapels and stately homes of 17th- and 18th-century Europe, a time when the regal and wealthy hired personal music directors and organists for private religious services. The intimate works of the program will be performed with instruments authentic to the era, and the audience will have the opportunity to view them up close after the shows. Apr 21 & 22

Kunitha: Ritual Dances of Karnataka

In the Indian state of Karnataka, villagers often gather at annual Jaatré (village fairs), magnificent religious celebrations that feature dance, music and ritual theater. Kunitha, the Karnataka Folk Ensemble will recreate a Jaatré with four traditional performances: dollu kunita, puja kunita, somana kunita and kamsale. Dollu kunita and kamsale are percussion-based music and dance traditions associated with Karnataka’s Shaivite community, while puja kunita and somana kunita are folk dances dedicated to village deities. Apr 18 & 19

For more information and to book your tickets, head to the Esplanade website.