30th Anniversary dramatic Drums Fest

Drumming and drama, billowy pantaloons and glittering costumes, smoke and lighting effects as well as gravity-defying feats – all this and more helped each participating drum troop to have an edge over the others in the National Championship competition.

A gravity-defying feat performed by the drum troop from
SMK Jalan Arang, Kuching, in the National Championship
On Aug 24, ten drum troops – the top two troops who qualified from regional competitions for the 24 Festive Drums – geared themselves up to give their best performances to the judges and to thrill their supporters and fans of drumming in the 5th International Festival of the 24 Festive Drums 2018.

Each troop are already winners as they have earned their place as finalists to compete in the National Championship after winning in regional competitions held in the North, Central, South, East Coast and East Malaysia.

The drum troops from the Northern Region are Jit Sin Independent High School, Penang and SMJK Dindings, Lumut, Perak.

The choreography in each performance never fails to impress!
Drum troops from SMK Chung Hwa Wei Sin, Kuala Terengganu and SMJK Chung Hwa, Kota Baru represented the East Coast Region while the Central Region was represented by drum troops from Tsun Jin High School, Kuala Lumpur and the University of Nottingham Malaysia.

The drum troops from Foon Yew High School, Johor Baru and Chung Hua High School, Seremban represented the Southern Region while the drum troops which represented East Malaysia came from Yu Yuan Secondary School, Sandakan and SMK Jalan Arang, Kuching.

Another creative stance in the choreography!
I’m sitting behind the row of judges and even though I may not fully understand all that was being announced in Mandarin, I am familiar with the National competition and can figure out what is going on.

Working closely with Tan Chai Puan, the co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums’ art of drumming, I’ve had the privilege to be part of the drum festivals since 2010 through events organised for local drum troops to compete in the National Championship and international drum troops to showcase their drumming skills.

The drum festivals were first held in the MBJB Indoor Stadium at Jalan Tebrau, a stadium which has since been demolished to make way for development.

I can still remember how the stadium was bursting with people, where the parking facilities were horrendous and the drumming within the small stadium, was simply eardrum-shattering.

As interest in the drums festival developed and attracted more participation, the subsequent festival needed to accommodate a larger audience. So the fest was held in the modern and more comfortable Educity Indoor Stadium.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of this art of drumming that was founded in Johor Baru in 1998, the mega drum festival planned over two nights, will be held in the Pasir Gudang Corporation Stadium, an indoor stadium with 2,600 seating capacity.

From as early as 6.30pm, the stadium is filling up with fans of drumming, supporters, friends and family members who have come from the nation’s various regions by the bus-loads to cheer their teams on.

Over the years, the judging criteria of the regional and national competitions for the 24 Festive Drums have gradually risen in technology and sophistication, and I join the audience to wait with eager anticipation for the judges to share their scores after each performance.

Likewise, each drum troop’s performance has also risen to new and creative heights of style, costumes, choreography and the use of modern technology and props.

The drum troop from Foon Yew High School, JB, in a scene
from their performance entitled, The Waves
After each performance, each judge will take a turn to raise his hand which is holding the score arranged in flip-cards, for the announcer to read it aloud and then turn it about to face the audience to let us see the numbers.

The responding roar of claps and cheers from the audience increases in tandem with the scores announced by each of the judges in the panel until the total score is tallied up by the technical judges – who may minus any points for any discrepancies – before the final score is announced.

A judge representative will then stand to lift up the final score in larger flip-cards to show the audience and turn around to show the participating troops, seated nearby.

This final score will instantly be flashed onto the wide screen at the back of the stage for the audience to see.

Clever use of props by Tsun Jin High School, KL
who performed a piece entitled, Into The Wind
I liked how the judging is being carried out with obvious transparency and as the audience noted the scores, it left no doubt as to which drum troop should emerge the ultimate champion in the National competition.

As more Malaysians are becoming aware that the 24 Festive Drums’ art of drumming is a Johor-born and an authentic Malaysian cultural heritage, there is an increasing sense of pride in being involved with this art-form.

In 2009, the 24 Festive Drums was recognized as a Malaysian National Intangible Cultural Heritage.

As this art of drumming was created based on the ancient Chinese heritage of the 24 Solar Terms – listed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016 – it is possible that someday soon, UNESCO may similarly recognise the 24 Festive Drums as it shares a vital link with the 24 Solar Terms!

For the finale in this drum troop's performance, entitled
Ka Ki Nang, they climbed up to drum on a heap of drums!
While this achievement may be something to look forward to in the future, I join the audience in the stadium to clap and cheer on the drum troops who are performing to the best of their ability on this national platform for drummers.

Over the years, I’ve observed how the choreography and presentation themes have evolved with advancing sophistication and professionalism.

The performances in this drum fest stands out with the clever use of music, vocals, spotlights and smoke effects that work together to evoke exciting scenarios around the skillful beating of drums.

There is never a dull moment as troop after troop stormed onto the stage to perform with style and vigor, dressed in an array of colourful and creative costumes, until the top three troops are obviously identified by their highest scores.

The drum troop from Foon Yew High School, Johor Baru emerged as champion and wins RM5,000, while first runner-up Chung Hua High School, Seremban, wins RM3,000 and the second runner-up Tsun Jin High School, Kuala Lumpur, wins RM2,000.

Getting the drum troops together for a group shot after the prize-giving
While it is a friendly competition, the tension is palpable in the stadium as the ten drum troops and their supporters eagerly anticipate the results for the prestigious titles for the Best Technical Performance, Best Music Composition, Best Formation and Best in Creativity.

Before the crowd becomes too restless, Tan takes over the MC’s microphone to share his comments about the remarkable and superior quality of drumming presentations which made it necessary for the judging panel to retire into a separate room and spend a longer time to deliberate on the results for the winners of the subsidiary titles.

Then comes the moment we have all been waiting for: The award for Best Technical Performance and Best Music Composition went to Foon Yew High School, Johor Baru, while Chung Hua High School, Seremban, won the award for Best in Creativity and SMK Jalan Arang, Kuching, won for Best Formation.

For the Best awards, each drum troop wins prize money of RM1,000 per title.

One for the album: The 5th International Festival of the 24 Festive Drums 2018 - Photo courtesy of 24 Festive Drums
The event was graced by Guest-of-Honour, Deputy Minister for Education, YB Teo Nie Ching, and other distinguished guests including representative from Department of National Heritage, Khalid Syed Ali, Pasir Gudang Municipal Council president, Hasrin Kamal Hashim, Malaysia 24 Festive Drums Association deputy president, Bernard Goh, and JB Tiong Hua Association president, Datuk Seri Tey Kim Chai.

The 5th International Festival of the 24 Festive Drums 2018 was presented with the support of main sponsors, Forest City and R&F Princess Cove, the JB Tiong Hua Association, the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council and other valued sponsors.

No comments:

Post a Comment