Four Individuals Awarded Cultural Medallion

Four Individuals Awarded Cultural Medallion

Friday, 18 November 2011

Media Type
Channel NewsAsia

Four individuals have been awarded the Cultural Medallion this year.

The award is the nation's highest honour, and is given to arts practitioners for their contributions to Singapore's cultural landscape.

At the ceremony at the Istana on Friday evening, President Tony Tan Keng Yam presented the medallions to theatre practitioner Atin Amat, lyricist Yusnor Ef, visual artist Lim Yew Kuan and composer Kelly Tang.

They join a select group of 100 artists who have received the award since 1979.

Six people were also recognised with the Young Artist Award. This year's recipients are Ang Song Ming for visual arts, Troy Chin Chien Wen for literary arts, Lim Woan Wen and Peter Sau for theatre, and Nawaz Mohammad Mirajkar and Joshua Tan Kang Ming for music.

They received their awards from the Information, Communication and the Arts Minister, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.

The award recognises their efforts to connect with audiences in Singapore and overseas.

Kelly Tang

50-year-old Kelly Tang has been lecturing aspiring teachers at the National Institute of Education since 1995. But he is no stranger to the thousands of students who have performed his creations at the Singapore Youth Festival.

A highly prolific composer, he has created some 60 pieces in the last 20 years.

Associate Professor Tang said: "I don't really see a dichotomy between teaching and composing because once you've composed a music, you're actually communicating something to the listener, you're in fact trying to nourish or enrich the listener. So while you're trying to do something which is comfortable, which is appealing to the audience, you also try to infuse the music with something that will take the listener beyond himself or herself.

"What I've always believed is that the artist or the performer doesn't really deliver art to the listener or music to the listener. What we're actually doing is basically to help the audience to recognise or to see the beauty that already exists within himself or herself. So the artwork serves as a kind of a mirror or a kind of light that shines into the heart of the listener and it's more a process of self-discovery, rather than delivery."

Lim Yew Kuan

83-year-old Lim Yew Kuan also sees art as a means to enrich a person spiritually, and that kept him pursuing the arts for more than half a century.

The son of artist Lim Hai Tak, the junior Lim has taught many students who went on to win Cultural Medallions themselves. He believes it is important for people to stay true to their convictions for life.

Mr Lim said: "You got a house, you got a car, during earlier times, I never (had such things)... I never feel inferior because the money I get can support my family, (that's) good enough. It doesn't mean I would be satisfied with that standard, but I know the future, I struggle for art."

"I say (art) is important because art raises a person's education level, enhances his outlook, it's not just about material (things)."

Atin Amat

Fighting hard for one's passion - 54-year-old Atin Amat knows this all too well.

Teater Kami, a theatre company which she set up in 1989, did well for the first 10 years until it ran into financial trouble in 1999. But she re-built it and has not looked back since.

Satisfaction, she said, is seeing the younger generation getting interested in Malay theatre.

She said: "I'm happy (for) the actors who come to Theatre Kami, act with Theatre Kami. Before they came, they could not speak Malay fluently, now they can speak fluently, they can even write, sing and talk fluently. That makes me very, very happy because I know the Malay language, that means I still can maintain it for future generations."

Yusnor Ef

Keeping Malay language and culture alive is also lyricist Yusnor Ef's artistic mission.

Yusnor has written lyrics to more than 260 songs in five decades, many of which, like Adilfitri and Nilai Cinta, are well-loved by the Malay community in Singapore and Malaysia.

He said: "I still feel I can contribute to the community from the field which I like, music, film and script. So because of that, I never feel I'm old. Although my age is 74, when you do the things which you like, the job, you don't feel anything."

Source: Channel NewsAsia, sph