Siong Leng Musical Association celebrated their 70th anniversary with a sensational banquet that creatively fused traditional Chinese arts with Singapore heritage.
Hosted at Chong Wen Ge， 崇文阁, next to Thian Hock Keng temple, arriving guest were treated to a Nanyin performance in the pavilion.
There were two makeshift stalls, often seen in earlier days of Singapore, offering tok tok candy and longevity noodles.
Moving around the guests were several “newspaper sellers” distributing the banquet newsletter designed to look like a newspaper and aptly called the Siong Leng Newsletter, 湘灵日报.
Mr. Kachang Puteh
Surprising guests was an Indian man giving out cones of Kachang Puteh (nuts and tit bits) and later ice cream.
Almost every Singaporean has their favorite childhood Kachang Puteh man and will remember his stall in school tuckshop or movie theaters.
The Kachang Puteh man is a Singapore heritage icon to Singaporeans of all races. Maybe surprising to some, this Kachang Puteh man speaks Hokkien, common in an earlier time in Singapore where people (Chinese Indian, Malays) speaks several dialects and languages not learnt in schools but on playgrounds, in the markets or from neighbors.
Sensational Banquet 感官别宴
The banquet was a series of Quanzhou cuisine put together by Gim Tim restaurant featuring the sweet potato mee sua, minan stew pork, duck and clam soup and 8 treasure yam paste.
The time marker during the banquet seemed to be a series of fine Chinese tea from Pek Sin Choon, starting with a light jasmine followed by the earthly Red robe and then refreshing Buddha’s palm.
The performance and talks during the banquet revolved around the history of Siong Leng.
lantern glazing 睇灯
After the banquet ended, guests were invited to the courtyard to watch a liyuan opera "Lantern Glazing" put together by Siong Leng, Dance Inspiration and Ai Tong Chinese dance troupe.
The performance made full use of the courtyard and the pavilion transforming the entire space into a 3D stage with characters on the stage, dancers in the courtyard and another lead character singing from the balcony on the upper floor of the pavilion.
After the performance was a speech by the president and introduction of their patrons and advisors. Guests were offered an auspicious glass of double bloom tea to toast for Siong Leng to scale greater heights of achievements.
As the guest prepare to leave, further surprises awaited. Everyone was presented with a set of Siong Leng postcards and a pack of Chinese tea packed inside an attractive pouch.
Meanwhile, a pair of lions was performing just outside the door to thank the guests and bid them farewell.
Siong Leng setting new standards
Siong Leng’s banquet has incorporated new reception ideas and differs from the typical Chinese banquet format by shifting the performances after the dinner.
Guests were able to interact during the dinner and to give performers their undivided attention after the dinner.
By incorporating facets of Singapore heritage into the celebration, Siong Leng demonstrated culture as a fluid concept capable of absorbing new ideas and perhaps more importantly the ability to evolve in response to audience’s changing needs.
Siong Leng hoped to offer guests a sensational banquet. They effortlessly exceeded far beyond that to present their guest with one of the most refreshing and memorable experiences in a long time!