Jack Wan Wai Keat

Percussionist / Rehearsal Master / Head of Gamelan Group

Jack is a perfectionist, quick to learn and very disciplined. He started playing 24 Festive Drums when he was 8, joined Hands Percussion at the age of 15 as a trainee, and became a Hands-2 member a year after. Driven by passion and ambition to perform, he has been a full-time performer with HANDS-1 since 2009.

As the Head of the Gamelan Group Jack manages and leads the group in their gamelan lessons and rehearsals. Jack’s journey with the gamelan started with Susan Sarah John, previously the group’s gamelan teacher. Traditional Malay gamelan songs such as ‘Timang Burung’ and ‘Lambang Sari’ as well as new compositions by Susan which applied new playing techniques were part of the group’s repertoire on the gamelan back then. He is also responsible for music composition whenever necessary and helps in organizing schedules for Hands-1. He learned to play the timpani from former Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) Principal Timpanist, Paul Philbert and the Malay hand drum from Kamrul Hussin founder of Geng Wak Long. Currently he is learning to play the marimba from Tan Su Yin, former Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) Principal Percussionist, and has started to learn the Tabla (an Indian hand percussion) from Prakash Kandasamy at the Temple of Fine Arts. As part of the coaching team, Jack coaches the 24 Festive Drums Troupe at SJKC Chung Kwo (Jalan Loke Yew).

Traveling with HANDS has taken Jack to various festivals in various countries. He participated in the Cracking Bamboo International Percussion Music Festival in 2012 and the KAKISENI’s Arts Exchange KL in 2013.

At the 10th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards in 2013 he and fellow team member, Jimmy Ch’ng were awarded the ‘Best Original Composition’ award for the piece “Chapter 2: Mechanics – The Duet”in the production ‘The NEXT’ staged in 2012. His greatest achievement so far was as the co-musical director for ‘Tchaikovsky On Gamelan’ alongside Ng Siu Yee, winning the ‘Best Musical Director’ award at the 12th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards. As a drummer from a non-musical background this was a tough task for Jack, but his perseverance and determination pushed him through, learning a great deal in the process. The most recent accolade was at the 13th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards where Jack and Thong Yong How (now a former member of HANDS), won the ‘Best Music & Sound Design’ award for ‘After Dark in Tepak Tari – Program A’ by MyDance Alliance.