On May 10, Toccata Studio in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, is presenting Square Fete, its first ever mini festival. Aside from being the official opening of its arts venue, Space.Toccata, the festival showcases Toccata Studio’s broad objective of celebrating Malaysian contemporary arts.

Highlights of the six-hour event include a contemporary dance piece by dancer/choreographer Steve Goh, a Chinese drums performance by percussionist Chin Chun Ket, and a “mobile phone orchestra” created and facilitated by musician/composer Ng Chor Guan.

When asked the story behind the festival’s curious name, Square Fete, Toccata Studio producer, managing director and co-founder Tan E-Jan says it alludes to structures in our lives and how we do not necessarily have to adhere to them all the time. “Be creative, be inspired. We want people to think out of the box!” she says.

An example of Toccata Studio’s work — Space Age: The Phantom Power draws inspiration from outer space and space travel. It was a contemporary classical performance.

An example of Toccata Studio’s work — Space Age: The Phantom Power draws inspiration from outer space and space travel as a way to present a contemporary classical performance featuring original compositions by Ng Chor Guan.

“It is the first of such a festival by Toccata Studio, and we would like to present them more often if there is proper funding and support available,” Tan shares.

Toccata Studio, founded in 2012, is now registered as a non-governmental organisation, dedicated to promoting performing arts in the community.

Tan adds that Toccata is a classical musical form derived from the Italian word “toccare”, which means “to touch”.

And just like its meaning, Toccata Studio aims to help the various art forms “touch” each other.

“We provide a platform for artists to communicate and create, provide opportunities for people to get closer to the arts, and at the same time, we aim to raise an awareness of arts, to elevate the appreciation of it and to enhance one’s life,” says Tan.

The audience can expect a variety of performances that are creative, collaborative, local and contemporary at Square Fete, Tan adds, expecting a turnout of more than 1,000 people.

Varied offering

There will be at least 20 artists/performers involved in the festival – among them local singer-songwriters Anna Tan, Azmyl Yunor, Keith Tan and Reza Salleh, who will be serenading the audience with their original numbers.

Fans of WVC Trio + 1 are encouraged to swing by to watch a jazz performance by the musicians: Tay Cher Siang on piano, AJ Popshuvit on bass, Julian Chan on saxophone and KJ Wong on drums.

Later in the day, be blown away by Polka Dot Playground, a live audio-visual interactive performance with improvisational music at its core. Musicians Ng, Jimmy “Zhai” aka Jimmy Chong and Gideon Alubakhan Chen will combine music and imagery via a myriad of instruments ranging from electronic to acoustic, Western to Eastern.

The performance will be built from dots placed by the audience on a screen, with each dot representing a music element.

Ng Chor Guan on Theremin.

Musician and composer Ng Chor Guan.

“These ‘seeds of music’, which form the basic vibe of each Polka Dot Playground performance, interact with each other on the screen to create compelling and beautiful visuals. Like a game of ‘join the dots’, the visuals offer the audience a new way to ‘see’ music,” says Tan.

Combining theatrical music with an improvisational performance, the creator, Ng, wishes to present this piece as a reminder to the audience to look up at the skies, and to search for beauty in everything.

Another highlight at Square Fete is its (separate and independent) micro crowd-funding programme, Cake Project. Now in its 16th installment, this project helps kickstart ideas and dreams into reality over cake and conversation.

In the Cake Project, the “Dreamers” share their ideas in a 10-minute presentation. Members of the audience then vote for their favourite idea. The contributor of the winning idea will receive the money collected in the Prize Pot, a donation box at Toccata Studio. Admission to Cake Project is RM15 per person.

All members of the audience and presenters will enjoy a slice of cake and tea during the session. The 16th installment of Cake Project, featured in Square Fete, will be hosted by radio personality Shazmin Shamsuddin.

Square Fete on May 10, from 12pm to 6pm, at Space.Toccata, 39A Jalan SS2/55, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Admission is free, except for the Cake Project, which requires a RM15 donation. Call or SMS 016-361 8504 or e-mail etoccata@gmail.com by May 8 to reserve a seat. www.space-toccata.blogspot.com