My Johor Stories at Drum Up Johor Baru


In the evening of Saturday January 7, the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House roared back to life with the opening show of Drum Up Johor Baru.


A dramatic scene from the performance
of Drunken Drummers

The Drum Up JB show was a collaboration between JB Drums and R&F Princess Cove to kick off the second launch of the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House. 


With events planned for the weekends of January 7 and 8 and February 25 and 26, Drum Up JB will showcase the art of the 24 Festive Drums in a programme that will feature performances by JB Drums and Orang Orang Drum Theatre.


My Johor Stories had the privilege of a book-sale booth to complement this event because the story of the 24 Festive Drums is documented in My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, among brands that were proudly born in Johor and have since been exported abroad.


The story of Tan Chai Puan,
co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums
is documented in My Johor Stories:
True Tales, Real People,
Rich Heritage
In fact, the story of Tan Chai Puan, co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums, was already documented in my 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.


Written in English, I am pleased that these stories will share the proud heritage of the 24 Festive Drums with drum enthusiasts and readers, all over the world.


Over this special weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting many familiar people who graced the opening show on January 7.


Among them were Tunku Fatimah Faridah Osman and her husband, the Consul-General of Singapore to Johor, Jeevan Singh and his wife, and Tan Guang Mei, daughter of the late Tan Hooi Song, the other co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums.


It was wonderful to observe how the seats in the opera house filled up to capacity and in the hushed silence, watched a short video broadcast on two screens on either side of the stage that featured Tan Chai Puan speaking about the 24 Festive Drums.


The audience was invited to participate in
this entertaining interlude

With all eyes on the drummers performing on stage, the atmosphere was electric with excitement as the much-anticipated drum show opened to an appreciative audience.


It was an absolute thrill to imagine some 600 pairs of eyes trained on the drummers whose dramatic performance was enhanced by the clever play of lights and smoke effects.


In the 90-minute show, the audience – me included – was mesmerized by performances by the drum troops of JB Drums in the dramatic art of the 24 Festive Drums and creative music performances by Orang Orang Drum Theatre.


In between the drum performances, there were brief interludes that featured a Chinese song performed by tenor, Oh Chee Kiong, and an invitation to the audience to participate in a fun drumming time.


Guest performer, Jack Lee, presented a 
brief but powerful performance

My excitement went a notch higher when I heard the announcement that the guest performer featured in the prelude to the performance of, Drunken Drummers, was Jack Lee, the founder and artistic director of Lee Wushu Arts Theatre.


It was simply wonderful to watch Lee, a gifted wushu athlete, take centre-stage for a brief but powerful performance.


The Drum Show certainly lived up to its promise of a spectacular show and I echo the comments of many in the audience who were impressed by the performances, in particular the Drunken Drummers by JB Drums and Memories, a collaboration between JB Drums and Orang Orang Drum Theatre.

With friends at Crescendo
HELP International School and
former principal, Phillip Brisley

The two shows over the weekend delighted and entertained, and many bought my recently launched Book Three of My Johor Stories which documented the story of the 24 Festive Drums, to complete their collection in a trilogy of My Johor Stories.


Incidentally, I was at my book-sale booth on Sunday afternoon when I noticed a group of three people walking into the lobby of the opera house. But as the show was already in progress, I guessed they were tourists who were just sight-seeing.


As they were making their exit through the main entrance, the young lady in the trio paused when she saw me and told her group something… and they turned to walk towards me.


It was indeed a pleasant surprise when they introduced themselves as people from Crescendo HELP International School and they recognised me from participating in their school’s Book Week activities in 2018.


In fact, Carene and Jonathan were escorting former school principal, Phillip Brisley, on a brief tour of the new developments at R&F Princess Cove that included the opera house, when they stumbled upon me and my book-sale booth.


With Tunku Fatimah Faridah and her husband,
and Tan Chai Puan at my book-sale booth

Former principal Phillip (who is retired, has returned to the UK after his short visit here) was thrilled at our uncanny encounter because he could add Book Three to his collection of my books to complete the trilogy of My Johor Stories!


Surprising things can happen at such opportune times and I was more than delighted to be part of this.


Drum Up JB is an initiative under the Downtown Johor Baru Grants Programme: Arts, Culture and Heritage, a collaboration between Iskandar Regional Development Authority and Think City, supported by Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru, R&F Princess Cove and Malaysia Digital Districts.


It was my pleasure and privilege to complement the Drum Show and am looking forward to the next two shows planned for February 2023. [Yes, I will be there!]


Hurry! Get your tickets for the next two shows scheduled on Saturday, February 25 at 8pm and on Sunday, February 26 at 3pm.


Tickets are priced at RM85, RM105 and RM150 only.

Get yours now from

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