15th Johor Arts Festival

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The string instrument players of the MPO

Fifteen years on and the Johor Arts Festival is still doing its best to educate, engage and empower the community through arts

The colour and culture of any community can be seen or experienced in so many ways. Some may indulge in the food of the various ethnicities and others may be interested in the everyday life events that a certain community may go through. However, to experience the raw essence of culture, one must also look into the arts and cultural performances of others to understand how heritage and contemporary culture can be meshed together.

In Johor, we are lucky to have a small community that grew year-to-year to bring education, engagement and empowerment of the community through arts – the Johor Society of Performing Arts (JSPA).

“Fifteen years ago, when we started this, we reached out to as many schools as possible and we managed to plant the art-loving seed in them. Now they keep coming back to our festival. They bring their friends, their spouses, their children and slowly the art community grew,” said Suzie Yap, Festival Director of the 15th Johor Arts Festival (15JohorAF).

The 15JohorAF has hosted hundreds of local and international artists and has also played a part in the discovery of many local talents as well.

Naohisa Furusawa, Conductor of MPO dressed up in a Totoro onesie to conduct the orchestra

One evident example is the talented Johorean graphic artist, Mulo. His intricate design of a warrior was highlighted as the image of the festival.

“Like Mulo, we work with many other local talents and we are proud to show them off and share the spotlight with them,” added Suzie.

The launch of the 15JohorAF coincided with a spectacular performance by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) entitled Mozart to Totoro. The performance included Mozart’s celebrated Marriage of Figaro Overture and Symphony No. 40, followed by the lovely Mercu Kegemilangan by local composer Vivian Chua.

The audience was also brought on a journey into the fantastic worlds of Hayao Miyazaki with music from Castle in the Sky and My Neighbour Totoro.

The 15JohorAF takes place from 1st to 23rd of September 2018 and will include an array of performances including a special show by comedian Joanne Kam, a big band jazz performance called Tarakaucha! by Sean Ghazi and Ida Mariana, forums, exhibitions, film screenings and many more.

For further details, visit the 15JohorAF website at www.jspa.org/15johoraf or JSPA’s Facebook page for event updates.