Drum Up JB! is set to deliver a captivating musical experience that weaves together the diverse tapestry of Malaysia’s multi-ethnic heritage through an enchanting fusion of instruments and themes. This mixed percussion ensemble brings together the creative forces of KL-based Orang Orang Drum Theatre (OODT) and Johor’s JB Drums, offering a profound testament to the multifaceted nature of the Malaysian identity and celebrating the rich diversity of musical instruments drawn from Malaysia’s various cultural traditions.
This dynamic 90-minute performance comprises two distinct themes: ’24 Festive Drums’ and ‘LaguKu’ each paying homage to cultural legacies that span from ancient times to the present day.
The first theme, ’24 Festive Drums,’ spotlights 24 drums, with each symbolizing one of the 24 festivals in the lunar calendar that have guided Chinese farmers for centuries. In 2009, ’24 Festive Drums’ received recognition as a Malaysian National Intangible Cultural Heritage, elevating it to the esteemed status of a heritage performance celebrated across five continents with over 400 troupes worldwide.
A standout moment in the first half of the show is ‘The Memories,’ a performance inspired by the history of Malaysian Chinese ancestors who embarked on a southward migration in pursuit of a fresh start. Their journey was marked by resilience, triumph over adversity, and navigation of uncharted territories.
The second theme, ‘LaguKu’ delves into the interconnected values, cultures, and experiences of Malaysians through music. This captivating presentation features folk songs in various mother tongues and combines vocal expression with physical movement. The ensemble incorporates diverse musical instruments from different cultures, including those of the indigenous people of Malaysia (kulintangan), Malay (Gendang, Kompang), Chinese (Shigu), and world music instruments (shaker, wood xylophone, etc).
“The different instruments, though having unique sounds of their own, create a beautiful ‘rojak’ of sounds and cultures once blended – very much resembling the Malaysian identity,” says Zyee Leow, co-founder of OODT.
The eagerly awaited performance will take place on October 14, 2023, at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House in Johor Bahru. There are two showtimes, at 2 PM and 8 PM. This show is the second-to-last of the season, with the last one happening on December 30.
Audience members attending the show on October 14th will have a unique opportunity to engage with the creative team of Drum Up JB! during a post-show discussion at 4 PM.
Additionally, a Museum of 24 Festive Drums Guided Walk is scheduled for 10.30 AM on October 15th, followed by a 24 Festive Drums Workshop at 1.30 PM on October 15th. These events will be conducted in both English and Mandarin and are free to attend, except for the drumming workshop, which requires an entrance donation.
Beyond the captivating performance, the venue itself, the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House, adds another layer of allure to the event. Opened in early 2020 and named after the wife of Johor’s ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar – Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah, this state-of-the-art opera house sprawls across 114,430 square feet of reclaimed land, boasting an impressive jewel-shaped facade. Situated overlooking the Woodlands Causeway, it provides a breathtaking view of the sea.
Since the beginning of the year, Drum Up JB! has been a bimonthly program at the opera house, captivating audiences in the main performance hall, which offers an intimate setting with 600 seats, including 500 regular seats and 100 VIP box seats.
The realization of Drum Up JB! wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of various partners and sponsors, including ArtsFAS, Yayasan Hasanah, the Ministry of Finance, R&F Development, Think City, Iskandar Regional Development Authority, Majlis Bandaraya Johor Bahru, Malaysia Digital Districts, Sun Bus Tech Sdn Bhd, and Wiwynn Malaysia.
Don’t miss this extraordinary musical journey, where history, heritage, and harmony come alive through the universal language of music. Drum Up JB! is a testament to the cultural richness of Malaysia and an experience that promises to resonate with audiences of all backgrounds. You can get tickets here.
All images were supplied by Drum Up JB!