Marina Bay Countdown | Drum Gaia

Let me do a count.. We're 12 days away from 2015!? That's less than two w...

Let me do a count.. We're 12 days away from 2015!? That's less than two weeks left! As the time draws near, each and every one of us gets more and more excited about the countdown to be held at Marina Bay Singapore. Each year, the celebration gets bigger and bigger and this year will neither disappoint, especially when it's the first year the organizer decided to have a large-scale community drum performance to hype up the mood for the countdown. 

The community drum performance, known as DrumGaia, will be helmed by Mr Riduan Zalani. He is none other than the Drumming Segment Composer for this performance. It was a pity that I couldn't make a trip down to the rehearsal place as I was under the weather, but I got to understand some of the performances and Riduan himself relating to the drum performance. I entrust the interview task to Charlene from URA and she kindly reverted back to me with the following information. Thank you Charlene, and enjoy everyone!

Q: Do your performers come with a background of drumming? 
If not, do you face any difficulties getting them to play in such a big group of drummers? 

Not much difficulty besides time and schedule. There are drummers from as young as 8 and as old to 68. They range from hobbyist to professional drummers. Everyone has their own understanding of music and background of it. But it's the fun and joy together with the entitlement that brings everyone together. 

Another difficulty will be bringing everyone together with one vision. There are many professionals who may have being doing this even longer than Riduan so he had to gain the respect from these drum groups. But at the end of the day, they all came together with the vision of having fun and being involved with such a big community event (i.e. MBSC2015).

In fact, most of the groups are clustered in different drum groups like afro-brazillian and Japanese drum group, making this whole cluster an interesting mix. 

Q: What's the inspiration or passion behind your (Riduan's) drumming career? 

Riduan started playing traditional Malay drums at 7 and moving on, he got involved in world percussion. He went into LaSALLE to do music (Major in world music). He kept learning from different musicians and different kinds of music in this world, and was very much shaped by his surroundings. Every summer, he will travel to Europe to perform and teach at workshops there. Up to now he has done more than 60 performances worldwide. 

Q: What are some interesting encounters you came across while teaching this group of drummers? 

Enthusiasm displayed by different generation of drummers. Everyone was willing to learn from the different parties/groups. This is what he had aimed for when he took on this project. He also wanted to portray to the community the joy exuded from drumming. How these drummers are now contributing back to the public and to a national event. Give Singaporeans the best fireworks experience. It is actually a gathering of different people, different mentality. From being friends, they started to be friends with their friends of friends and even to their family. He feels a sense of close unitedness to each and every one of friends and to the family. It shows that it boils down more than just the music. There is a lot of joy and happiness.

(As Riduan answers, the interviewer could tell that he was truly happy when he mentioned that the participants became closer as time goes by and a lot of joy exuded from him while he spoke).

More about DrumGaia in Riduan's point of view:

To Riduan, DrumGaia represents the spirit of getting everyone together, irregardless of race or religion. It creates such an amazing energy that can integrate people from all walks of life. They even have members from SCDF participating in DrumGaia! 

At the end of the day, drumming is a form of response and not so much of technicality. It is all about getting community's engagement and that is what Riduan would like to achieve.

What audience can expect on MBSC2015: 

Public can expect a drum arsenal on the countdown day itself at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza. 
Small pockets of performances will be held from 630-830 PM. There will then be a break before fireworks which allows preparation for the big performance.

DrumGaia will start 45 seconds before the fireworks, culminating down to midnight and excite people.

On a side note, Charlene also get to interview a fellow SMU student who's involved in this drum performance!

For the SMU students, I would like to ask what makes them join in this performance?

It is a totally unique experience. This is my (Ke Ming) first experience having different drum groups to work together. This is something that won't come by often. Nice to see different age groups being involved in such a meaningful event. 

The SMU student representatives came from the Afro Brazilian Drum Group in SMU. We started learning for about 2-3 years in SMU in percussion. 

To aid learning, we record videos to see what we should improve on. It is hard to distinguish the sound on site during training, so we do recording and improve on our part. I was surprised by the band members. They blended like friends and everyone is very open to being friends and learning from one another. 

Resolution for the New Year:   

It is a great start forward to a collaborative year end celebration. I hope that there's more arts involvement in major and national events and to have a better art scene. 

Cheong Ke Ming
Year 3 
SMU School of Business 

Now that I've known more about the performing group, I can't wait to watch the performance on the day itself! Are you ready? 12 days left! ;)

Thanks for reading! ❤
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