Flying start: a guide to arts events to check out (so far) in the Klang Valley


In February, Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in Kuala Lumpur will host the 'Cirque de la Symphonie' series, featuring aerialists, acrobats, strongmen, jugglers, contortionists, and classical masterpieces. Photo: MPO

Getting the next generation closer to the world of culture and arts is the focus for the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) as it recently announced its in-house programmes for 2024, which includes the inaugural Damansara Children’s Arts and Culture Carnival, scheduled from Feb 29 to March 3.

“This carnival is an event creatively designed for children, where they will have the chance to spend an art-filled evening in the theatre and enjoy specially designed art performances, all while exploring the limitless possibilities of art,” outlines a statement from DPAC.

This family-inspired event also encourages children to showcase their talents, explore, innovate, and create.

Apart from storytelling sessions, craft workshops, gaming zone and arts camp, there will also be eight theatre performances, involving the Bottle Man Magic Troupe from Taiwan, the Kuala Lumpur Shakespeare Company promoting drama education, music from renowned Penang pianist Dr Esther Shin, the well-loved Johor Baru Children’s Arts Society, and movement sessions from the Dance Space academy.

To celebrate the Year of the Dragon, DPAC is also presenting the “Spring Fest 2024” event on Feb 24 and 25, featuring a diverse range of performances including dance, music, Cantonese opera, diabolo, and lion dance. This marks DPAC’s return to hosting Chinese New Year festivities after a three-year hiatus.

The inaugural Damansara Children’s Arts and Culture Carnival will take place at DPAC in Petaling Jaya next month. Photo: DPACThe inaugural Damansara Children’s Arts and Culture Carnival will take place at DPAC in Petaling Jaya next month. Photo: DPAC

On the community front, DPAC has also launched its Persatuan Kebudayaan Dan Kesenian Damansara, a non-profit association focused on arts education and outreach, with an “Adopt an Artist” programme and International Art Exchange Programmes in its plans this year.

This year, DPAC is also presenting the d’Next Artist Project, Theatre No Theatre, and the d’Motion International Dance Arts Festival.

Strauss to keroncong at DFP

Classical music fans are also in for an exciting first quarter of the year, with six shows set to grace the stage of Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) at KLCC.

The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra is set to present an array of classical music shows, a surprise shift from the usual orchestral pops showcases in recent times.

Starting with the New Year Concert (Jan 20), MPO conductor Gerard Salonga will celebrating Strauss’ famed waltzes, and Jongen’s Symphonie Concertante, showcasing the majestic Klais pipe organ.

Junichi Hirokami will be conducting The Father, The Queen And The King (Jan 27), with Respighi’s Ancient Airs And Dances Suite No. 2 bound to transport concertgoers to the Italian Renaissance era.

Cirque de la Symphonie (Feb 2) is one show to bring the whole family along, it is meant for audiences of all ages with a fusion of music and movement. Talk about carnival time at the DFP, with classical masterpieces to be accompanied by a wide range of aerialists, acrobats, strongmen, jugglers and contortionists.

Japanese conductor Junichi Hirokami returns to the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas podium to lead 'The Father, The Queen & The King' MPO concert on Jan 27. Photo: MPOJapanese conductor Junichi Hirokami returns to the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas podium to lead 'The Father, The Queen & The King' MPO concert on Jan 27. Photo: MPO

During the season of love, A Valentine’s Serenade (Feb 17) presents Broadway masterpieces conducted by Stanislav Kochanovsky, with Sean Ghazi, and Ida Mariana on vocals. We hear that there will also be surprise guest vocalists.

Closing February is Fantasia Across Dreams – Mozart & Tchaikovsky (Feb 24), a grand celebration of two composers from the 18th and 19th century respectively. Get set for a concert brimming with playful melodies and lively dialogue between orchestra and the horn, played by Grzegorz Curya.

In March, a harmonious blend of traditional instruments with orchestra is set to give the DFP stage a romantic sway with Simfoni Budaya: Keroncong And Ghazal (March 2). The show – featuring gems such as Sayang Di Sayang, Bisikan Hati, Penawar Rindu and Seri Mersing – will be conducted by Ahmad Muriz Che Rose, with vocalists Datuk Yusni Hamid, Haziq Rosebi and Asmidar on board.

KLPac resets for the year

Last year, KLPAC put together 134 shows and events, attracting more than 70,000 visitors and arts lovers.

That’s a bumper figure to emulate this year, with KLPac’s in-house productions set to return in the coming months.

As an early music showcase this year, Datuk Zainal Abidin is presenting the Sound Spirit Concert (Jan 20) at KLPac.

This concert, described as an "edutainment" event, is looking to inspire music students and young fans.

The setlist, featuring big band and traditional instruments, will be rolled out in a storytelling manner, allowing the young crowd to learn, explore and experience Zainal’s music live.

The show’s musical director is Michael Veerappen.

After a short break, KLPac is set to roll-out a busy programme of in-house productions this year. Photo: KLPacAfter a short break, KLPac is set to roll-out a busy programme of in-house productions this year. Photo: KLPac

The first quarter of this year will see KLPac encouraging the public to try new and arty things, with The Actors Studio Academy’s Open Day (Jan 20 and 21) – a weekend of free trial classes, theatre tours, workshops and more.

The Academy’s well-loved Speech and Drama programme is definitely recommended for young children.

Teaser classes during the Open Day also include Improv Fundamentals by Tung Jit Yang (NYU’s Tisch School of Arts), Contemporary Dance by Zhafir Muzani of Oh My English! fame and Modern Dance by Nicholas Low.

Between upgrading its facilities and a CNY season break, KLPac looks set to resume busy programming in March, starting with a tribute to the King of Pop – Michael Jackson – on the 15th anniversary of his death.

The KLPac Symphonic Band will be presenting the show, with the odd moonwalk on stage something to look out for.

Dates for theatre shows, concerts and musicals such as The Sisters Soong, Anton Chekhov’s The Swan Song And The Seagull, Beethoven: His Romance And Fire, indicinelive! 9, Yesterday Once More 5, Short+Sweet Malaysia and the Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival will be announced soon.

This year, KLPac also welcomes Singapore Ballet’s annual Ballet Illuminations as well as GuoGuang Opera Company with a new offering A Double Bill of Magic Jinju Art.

The little arts space that could

At the GMBB mall in downtown KL, there looks to be busy times on the 9th floor - the home of Five Arts Centre, which is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year.

Five Arts Centre - an independent arts collective - is pacing itself in the coming months, with a few workshop events to check out. Over three weekends (February to March), the Touch Me Hold Me Let Me Go workshop by Vancouver-based dance artist Lee Su-Feh is ready to inspire contemporary dancers and choreographers.

In July, the Dramaturgy workshop by Singapore-based dramaturg Charlene Rajendran (postponed from last year) will be something to interest theatre practitioners.

The cast of 'A Notional History' take a bow at the Five Arts Centre theatre space at the GMBB mall in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Bryan ChangThe cast of 'A Notional History' take a bow at the Five Arts Centre theatre space at the GMBB mall in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Bryan Chang

In October, it looks to be the "business end" of the season at Five Arts Centre. A new music theatre project, directed by Mark Teh and produced by June Tan, will explore the many faces, phases and facets of Hang Tuah. These Five Art Centre stalwarts were the team behind performances such as Baling, Version 2020 and A Notional History, which has toured to almost 30 cities and festivals in the past decade.

Other in-house shows to be announced later this year also include Mortal Man: Two Monologues, a new play by Leow Puay Tin, one of South-East Asia's most original playwrights. Not to forget Tikam-Tikam, a series of events and the publication of Leow's tikam-tikam texts over the past 40 years.

Ongoing throughout 2024 is also Re:Public, a year-long series of process-based research looking into dance and public space by award-winning dance artist Lee Ren Xin.

More shows are being planned. A bustling Five Arts Centre venue is definitely something to celebrate this year.

PJ takes it forward

In Petaling Jaya, it’s not only DPAC leading the line for arts programmes this year. That’s a good thing when you need variety and don’t really want to head down to Kuala Lumpur (notably with national arts institution Istana Budaya closed for two years, starting on Jan 15, to facilitate repair works).

From theatre to musicals to niche festivals and music, you can look up venues in PJ these days.

Malaysia’s longest-running improv comedy troupe AIIA Improv will be staging a new show called One Word Wonder at SoulCity Hub in Petaling Jaya on Jan 20 and 21.

If you’re into independent arts shows, it’s best to trawl through social media to find out what is stirring in Petaling Jaya’s smaller venues. It’s always a good sign to see AIIA Improv back on stage giving the masses a smartly done comedy theatre treat at the start of the year.

New family-friendly musical show 'Sang Kancil And The Dragon King' is set to play at PJPAC next month. It stars (from left) Gui, Phraveen and Putrina. Photo: Liver and LungNew family-friendly musical show 'Sang Kancil And The Dragon King' is set to play at PJPAC next month. It stars (from left) Gui, Phraveen and Putrina. Photo: Liver and Lung

For something different: the inaugural Podfest KL is set to take place at PJPAC, 1Utama in Petaling Jaya (Feb 3 and 4).

It’s definitely a new generation festival, which aims to attract a diverse audience who prefer digital media options.

Local content at Podfest KL include Financial Faiz, Malam Seram, Mamak Sessions, and OKLETSGO. The list is an interesting one, with no genres left behind, whether its current affairs, lifestyle, sports, culture, comedy or politics.

The full line-up will be announced on the Podfest KL website on Jan 15.

To add to the Chinese New Year festivities, the Delicate Dreams And Desires show at PJPAC on Feb 28 and 29, features beloved songbird Tan Soo Suan and performers from theatre company Dama Asia. This live series aims to raise awareness of the Medical Awareness Camp Outreach’s work.

The Year of the Dragon is also an inspiration for the new musical Sang Kancil And The Dragon King at PJPAC from Feb 29- March 3). The children’s musical, presented by theatre company Liver And Lung, tells the story of schoolboy Ben, who is transformed into Sang Kancil. He must win over the Dragon King using his wit in order to transform back to a human.

Directed by Shafeeq Shajahan, the musical stars Joshua Anthony Gui, Putrina Rafie and Phraveen Arikiah.

After almost a three-year hiatus, Gardner and Wife Theatre will be presenting the stage adaptation of Stuck at PJ Live Arts, Jaya One from May 14-26.

Stuck is the award-winning picture book by popular author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and has been a favourite of many young readers and their parents for over a decade.

There will be a relaxed performance on May 14 which is aimed at children on the autism spectrum or who have learning difficulties. This specific show is also great for those attending a live theatre for the first time.

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