A full-house at Drum Up JB!


Drum Up JB! continued its live shows on Saturday, October 14, presenting the art of the 24 Festive Drums in a 90-minute programme that features creative performances by the talented artistes in JB Drums and Orang Orang Drum Theatre, staged at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House in Johor Baru.


Creative choreography that mirrored the 
drawing [projected on screen!]
of the original nine drummers, from 1988!

Since January 2023, audiences at the Drum Up JB! shows have enjoyed an entertaining and exciting, family-friendly showcase created as a catalyst to reach out to and unite the community through the language of drumming, percussion and music.


The encouraging response to the shows in January led to the staging of two shows each month in February, March, April, May and June.


Founded in June 1988, the art of the 24 Festive Drums celebrated 35 years of drumming this June.


Facade of the Permaisuri Zarith
Sofia Opera House by night,
viewed from the R&F Marina

Along with the Drum Up JB! shows, there were several anniversary celebration activities like a Guided Tour at the Museum of the 24 Festive Drums, Drumming Workshops and Coffee Talk sessions conducted separately in Mandarin and English.


When the Drum Up JB! shows kicked off in January, I had the privilege to partner with them to have a pop-up store for My Johor Stories books at the lobby of the Opera House.


The art of the 24 Festive Drums was often thought of as a Chinese performing art so it was important to share that the art of the 24 Festive Drums was founded by Johoreans in Johor Baru, and in fact, a proudly Johor-born performing art.


Over the years I had the opportunity to learn more about this art of drumming from co-founder, Tan Chai Puan, and to document the journey of the 24 Festive Drums in various publications.


An exclusive piece under Portraits in my 2017
MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories:
True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage

For my contributions in sharing about this dramatic art of drumming in English to English-speaking drummers in nations abroad, I was honoured to witness their 30th anniversary national level celebration as a special guest.


With a wealth of such exciting experiences, I decided to share the story of the 24 Festive Drums, a distinctly Johor brand in Book Three of My Johor Stories, My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, along with other brands that were established in Johor and spread across the nation, with some even exported abroad.


Prior to this, I had also documented the story of Tan Chai Puan, co-founder of the art of the 24 Festive Drums, as an exclusive piece under Portraits in my 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.


The story of the founding of the art of the
24 Festive Drums is documented among the
Johor brands in My Johor Stories 3:
Proudly Johor, Then and Now

During the Drum Up JB! show, the MC will make announcements to alert the audience that the story of the 24 Festive Drums was duly documented in My Johor Stories (in English!) and they were welcome to visit my pop-up store to get their own copies and have them autographed by the author.


After the performances, the organisers of Drum Up JB! paid close attention to feedback comments to help them fine-tune and improve the shows to ensure that the audience will get a better experience from the next shows.


When the shows opened in January, I had the privilege to witness the first Drum Up JB! show staged at the Opera House. In June I watched the show again to observe how the show’s content had evolved and improved.


People queuing to enter the lobby of Opera House

This October, I was delighted to receive yet another invitation to watch the show again to see how the content was further improved to keep the audience engaged and entertained.


I observed that the organisers had not only improved the show’s content but did well in providing tips to the audience in advance so that they arrived comfortably and on time for the start of the shows.


The audience received links to Google Maps to guide them to the carparks at R&F Mall and R&F Marina to park legally, along with directions to the Opera House.


They were also encouraged to arrive early and be seated on time so that they do not miss a moment of the opening scenes so as to have the pleasure of the complete show experience from the start to the end.


Inside the theatre, it was a full-house!

From my pop-up store at the lobby which commands a clear view of the entrance to the Opera House, I have witnessed the arrival of countless latecomers who – I thought – wasted chunks of the exciting show due to their tardiness.


The ushers will welcome the latecomers to wait in the lobby and they may only be admitted into the theatre at the end of that particular performance to avoid disrupting the show and the other audience’s viewing experience.


The audience was also advised to dress appropriately for their own comfort because they may feel rather chilly while seated in the air-conditioned theatre.


On that evening, I saw a healthy queue of people arriving more than fifteen minutes ahead of the start-time to get themselves comfortably seated in the theatre.


Inside the theatre, the rows of seats around me filled up quickly and I was delighted to observe that it was a full-house.


Another captivating performance!

When I looked around the theatre, I silently congratulated the audience for being there on time because in just a few moments, the lights dimmed and the MC stepped up to open with words of welcome and a brief introduction of the show’s programme.


I trust the audience will agree with me that the pleasure of viewing the show was further enhanced by a backdrop of visuals projected on the interactive multimedia screen, along with the clever play of lights and percussion that aptly complemented and emoted each presentation.


So it was sheer pleasure to sit back and soak in the story of the art of the 24 Festive Drums shared in the dramatic drumming performances in the Drum Up JB! show.


During the show’s Intermission, the audience who were keen to know more about the founding of the 24 Festive Drums, visited my pop-up store to buy their copies of My Johor Stories.


It was just fun to autograph my books for them and snap a photo memento with the readers. [More about this later!]


Meanwhile, don’t miss the final two Drum Up JB! shows for this year scheduled at 2pm and 8pm on Saturday, December 30, so get your tickets now.


Tickets are available from https://www.cloudjoi.com/buy/mic1ja


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.

This Drum Up JB! show was proudly presented in partnership with ArtsFAS, Yayasan Hasanah and the Ministry of Finance, Malaysia.

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