Drumhouse-Honouring a Cultural Heritage by HANDS Percussion Malaysia

Drumhouse: Honouring a Cultural Heritage

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Drumhouse, as its title describes, is a production we embarked on to honour Teochew cultural heritage. Many of us in HANDS are Teochew and have since spent time talking to family and friends to listen to old tales as well as learn details of the culture, more so about its music, operas and traditions. We spent time with Ling Goh, a fourth-generation Teochew Opera practitioner based in Penang learning as much as we could from her (and her brother).

The show has 3 segments.

We begin with a tribute to the late Mr.Tan Hooi Song and Bernard’s sifu and Mr. Tan Chai Puan (who is incidentally Teochew) both who are responsible for the beginning of my 24 Festive Drums journey and the beginning of HANDS. On a trip to Changsha, China in 2005 they both reminded Bernard that it was time we celebrate our beginnings. It’s never too late, so, in this 25th year of ours it is fitting to honour our heritage and those that lead us to where we are today.

In segment two we take a contemporary spin on Teochew music, its instruments and traditional opera. We believe there is room to have fun and make things a little more “fashionable” without losing any traditional authenticity. We take an excerpt from well-known Teochew opera ‘Tao Hua Guo Du’ and rearrange it with Kelantanese opera elements. Guest artists Jeff Chua and Zamzuriah Zahari will both sing this in Teochew while Zam also sings in Kelantanese. She also introduces her composition ‘Hadir Mu’ in a nod towards our cultural heritage. We have rearranged it so that Chinese instruments accompany her singing. Lending an air to what is fashionable are costumes designed by Kel Wen of BEHATI, well known for their peranakan wear.

For the finale, we present a classic HANDS showcase. Having recently performed a thrilling excerpt of this piece that includes elements of 24 Festive Drumming, our percussion techniques and 4 types of Chinese cymbals in Kaleidoscope 6, the piece will now include the North Sumatran gordang sambilan (gendang sembilan). Adding Balinese flavor to it is the Balinese reong and cymbals played to a part composed by long time collaborator I Wayan Sudirana. ‘Drumhouse’ is a presentation of contemporary Southeast Asian music with exquisite drumming skills, technique, synchronization and precision.