Classic Accents Art House

An arty shot of the artiste, Chong Keat Aun, taken by
photographer, Calvin Yew, at Johor Gu Miao, ancient temple
A large crowd in a multi-racial audience, gathered at a section of Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk early on Feb 1 to catch a glimpse of an exciting street performance for the opening of The Classic Accents Art House within Eh He – Earth Heart.  Customers at nearby coffeeshops were joined by curious bystanders as they eagerly anticipated the start of the show along a 90m length of red cloth laid out on the centre of the road. 

The Classic Accents Art House is a gallery that showcases our aural heritage in a collection of recorded music that visitors can listen to from headphones in each exhibit. 

A section of the gallery in the Classic Accents Art House
The audio recordings are from a personal project in collecting sounds from a bygone era throughout the country that RTM radio personality and performing artiste, Chong Keat Aun, embarked on ten years ago.  When the owners of Eh He – Earth Heart met Chong, they decided to collaborate with an idea to create a gallery with interactive audio stations for visitors to appreciate our aural heritage. 
“I discovered that people in the North and the South speak various Chinese dialects with different accents,” said Chong as he explained why the gallery was named, “Classic Accents Art House.”  He said besides major dialects like Teochew, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan and Cantonese or Kwangtung here, we also have dialects like Hockchew, Kwangxi and Sanjiang.

The audience was made up of a multi-racial group!

“Most Malaysian Chinese have adopted words from other dialects into their own dialect and even words from the Malay language, making Chinese dialects somewhat like rojak,” he added with a laugh.

Chong is fascinated by the beauty of traditional music, not only among the Chinese but also in other ethnic groups in Malaysia.  The first showcase which happens to coincides with the Lunar New Year will feature music that is typically played during this festive season.  

Visitors can expect to hear more of our aural heritage from the various ethnic groups as exhibits in the Arts House will be refreshed every two months.

Yap Leong [Left] and his wife, Pauline, are among the
artists whose work are showcased at Eh He - Earth Heart
Six years ago, Chong started doing street performances mostly at KL’s Petaling Street and one of his most unforgettable performances was the last dance for Pudu Jail before it was demolished.  Just as in previous performances, his dances are choreographed to the music performed by flutist and composer, Yii Kah Hoe who hails from Sibu, Sarawak.  

The audience at Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk that morning was enthralled by a powerful performance that illustrated the journey through a bygone era to preserve and present aural heritage at The Classic Accents Art House.  The dance culminated in the writing of an auspicious couplet on that length of red cloth by Pang Heng Khan, a skilled calligraphist.
For a peek at this auspicious couplet, take a look at the ceiling of the upstairs section of Eh He where it is displayed.  While you are there, do catch a glimpse the building’s traditional architecture through a sky-light.

Calligraphist Pang Heng Khan, photographer Calvin Yew,
DJ, producer and performing artiste Chong Keat Aun
and composer-flutist Yii Kah Hoe [Left to Right]
Chong’s foray into visual arts included a series of award-winning photographs taken at Petaling Street by photographer Calvin Yew Pin Shi.  This series of photos named, Guarding Petaling Street, garnered Yew seven awards in various categories in the 2014 Prix de la Photographie, Paris photography competition and three awards in the 2014 International Photography Awards competition.

This successful collaboration between Chong and Yew resulted in another series of poignant photographs taken at familiar JB heritage sites along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Jalan Dhoby, Jalan Ungku Puan and Jalan Trus.  This collection of photographs is also displayed in the Arts House from now until March 31.

The Classic Accents Art House is located within Eh He – Earth Heart, at No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, Jalan Trus, Johor Baru.  Open daily from 11am to 10pm.


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