Our People

Dato’ Faridah Merican – Executive Producer & Co- Founder

Known as the First Lady of Malaysian Theatre, Faridah’s early acting credits include such plays as ‘Lela Mayang’, ‘Tok Perak’, ‘Uda dan Dara’ and ‘Alang Rentak Seribu’, works that defined the Malaysian theatre in the 60s and 70s, and determined the direction that theatre would take in the next few decades. In the early 60s, she joined Radio and TV Malaysia. Simultaneously, she was involved in the formative years of Malaysian Advertising, and is today, a member of the board of directors of Ogilvy & Mather. She also sits on the board of several other institutions.

In 1989, Faridah co-founded The Actors Studio with her husband Joe Hasham OAM. In June of 2003, floods destroyed the entire complex of The Actors Studio in Plaza Putra, Dataran Merdeka. Out of that devastation, Faridah’s ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude generated yet another ground-breaking event – the birth of The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, set up by the YTL Group, Yayasan Budi Penyayang and The Actors Studio.

Faridah Merican was awarded the BOH Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award for 2004. In July 2005, Faridah was conferred the ‘Darjah Dato’ Paduka Tuanku Ja’afar by the Yang Di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan on the occasion of His Highness’ 83rd Birthday. The following year, she received an Honorary Master of Letters at University Sains Malaysia’s 35th Convocation.  Finally in 2014,  Faridah received the Outstanding Achievement award under the Arts, Culture and Entertainment category from the Inaugural Malaysian Women of Excellence Awards.  Faridah now sits on The Laureate Advisory Board and is also the Executive Producer and co-founder of the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac).

Joe Hasham OAM – Artistic Director & Co- Founder

Joe was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, did his schooling in Sydney, Australia, moved to Malaysia in 1984 and is now a proud permanent resident of his adopted country. Joe is Artistic Director of The Actors Studio, which he set up with his wife Faridah in 1989 and also Artistic Director of The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. Joe is a graduate of NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) at the University of NSW, Sydney, Australia. Before he made the decision to come to Malaysia, he was one of the most sought after actors in Australia. Joe is a multi award winning film director, actor, writer and recording artist.

Joe was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), within the Australian Honours System “For Service to the performing arts through The Actors Studio (Malaysia) and The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre; and, as an actor, writer, producer and director”. He is also the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac).

klpac Resident Directors

In line with its aim to nurture young talent, klpac runs a residency programme giving young talents a safe space to hone their skills and craft. We started with just one full-time director as part of the programme, Gavin Yap. Since then, the programme has expanded and klpac boasts resident directors specialized in their individual artistic fields such as Mark Beau de Silva and Lex Lakshman Balakrishnan .

The residents are charged with presenting a wide range of performances and activities. They also run courses at our Academy. All  residents are also actively involved in our Community Outreach programme, bringing the arts to the underprivileged.

Mark Beau de Silva – Resident Director / Writer

Mark Beau de Silva has been working in the arts since 2001, first as a stage manager, then writer and director with The Actors Studio. He has written several plays and musicals over the years including Stories for Amah, Oh My God, Big Head Potato Head and most recently Marrying Me. He is currently teaching children and teens drama at The Actors Studio Academy and is pursuing his Masters in Performing Arts.

Lex Lakshman Balakrishnan – Choreographer in-Residence

A graduate from ASWARA, Lex loves to create dance, fusing traditional and contemporary elements in his works. He was the choreographer for klpac’s Kaki Blue and The Actors Studio’s Adam the Musical. Besides these, he can also be seen on stage as an actor, dancer and singer and was awarded the Bintang Irama 1Malaysia in 2010. Currently, he is klpac’s choreographer-in-residence. 


Lee Kok Leong, Conductor & Music Director, klpac Orchestra 

Mr. Lee Kok Leong started his music interest when he joined primary school band as a drummer. Started learning the piano at the age of 13, he then picked up viola as his major instrument under tutelage of Mr. Tham Kin Keong and received master class from Mr. Giovanni Pasini, former MPO viola principal. He also learned violin under Mr. Prody G. Bartolome.

As a non-music graduate, Kok Leong pursued his tertiary education in computing field, but his passion in music has no difference with other professional musicians. After joining Malaysia Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) for 2006/2007 session he has opened his eyes into classical orchestra music. Kok Leong started actively involve into local orchestra performance as violist. Among the orchestra he joined included Friend of Strings Chamber, National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), Galaxy Chamber Orchestra and klpac Orchestra, Penang Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), Kuala Lumpur City Hall Orchestra and RTM Orchestra. He also actively involved in sacred classical concerts organized by Yin Qi.

Kok Leong made his conducting debut with Galaxy Chamber Orchestra in 2005 and appointed as resident conductor from 2007 to 2011. In year 2010, he was appointed as training conductor for klpac Orchestra until year 2012 and received tutelage from late Mr. Brian Tan, resident conductor and music director of the orchestra during that time. As assistant to late Mr. Brian Tan, Kok Leong was giving opportunities to conducts few concerts with klpac Orchestra which included HSBC Classics Chopin dan Lain-lain and PESSBAND Music Exchange in 2010, Opera Extravaganza, Klang Music Festival and Concert for Brian in Year 2011. Later, he received conducting masterclasses from renown pianist and conductor Mdm. Elaine Pao.

Currently, Mr. Lee Kok Leong is appointed as conductor of Friend of Strings Chamber and held a concert on May 2014. Besides conducting, he is frequently engaged in ensemble playing, sharing his passion in music with his friends

Cheryl Mah, Resident Conductor & Music Director, klpac Symphonic Band

Cheryl Mah graduated from Elder Conservatorium of Music (Australia) with concurrent majors in Piano Performance and Music Education. She then completed Performance based Master Degree in Conducting and Directorship from Salford University (England, UK) under tutelages of Dr. David King and Dr. Roy Newsome, specializing in Brass Band Conducting.

As a music educator, she has been actively involved in conducting, lecturing, tutoring in local universities, school band camps and festivals, and as well adjudicating for local band competitions. Since 2008, she has been a part-time faculty member at UCSI University Music Department as Orchestra Conductor, where she conducts UCSIU Orchestra in regular concert performances, repertoires ranging from Bach to Prokofiev.

Cheryl was invited to represent the country in participating SEA Young Conductors’ Workshop (2009/2010) in Salaya Thailand, which jointly organized by Goethe-Instituts and College of Music, Mahidol University.

Apart from being active as band/orchestra conductor, Cheryl has played with various ensembles as Baritone Saxophonist -PJ Youth Symphonic Band, Greg Lyons Nonet. She is the co-founder of Birdian Saxophone Quartet and has performed extensively with the quartet in various occasions. Their recent concert appearance at klpac Pentas 2 “Simply the Original” featuring original literature for saxophone quartet was well-received.

Cheryl is currently Band Director of Confucian Symphonic Band, Assunta Symphonic Band, and has recently appointed as Band Director of klpac Symphonic Band. She is as well a woodwind/piano tutor based in the Klang Valley.

Dr. Andrew Filmer, Resident Conductor & Music Director, klpac String Ensemble

Dr Andrew Filmer is the Editor of the Journal of the American Viola Society, and a Senior Lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia. In addition to his role at the helm of the String Ensemble at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, he is a committee member of the Australian and New Zealand Viola Society, Advisor of Musica Sinfonietta, and Artistic Advisor of the Arioso Sinfonia.

Andrew has articles published in Arco in the UK, String Praxis and Stringendo in Australia and Crescendo in New Zealand, as well as editions by Comus in the UK, and American Viola Society Publications in the US. Andrew’s research has included non-conventional tunings of stringed instruments, systematic variation in bowing in works of Bach and Mozart, and the use of the violetta by Telemann.

Andrew has presented research at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide, and International Viola Congresses in Germany and Poland. He has also facilitated lectures at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore and Victoria University of Wellington.

As a performer, he has diverse interests, from the use of period bows, to collaboration with contemporary composers. Outside of Western art music, Andrew was a member of New Zealand jazz band The Troubles, whose debut recording was released on Rattle Records.

Prizes include a first place win of the David Dalton Viola Research Competition, and performances prizes from the Lilburn Trust. Andrew holds a PhD from the University of Otago, where he was a New Zealand International Doctoral Scholar, and a master’s degree in viola performance from Indiana University, where he was likewise on a full scholarship. His teachers have included Donald Maurice and Anthony Ritchie in New Zealand, and Anthony Devroye in the United States. This year, he has appeared as an adjudicator for the Malaysian Youth Music Festival, the Eurasia Youth Music Festival, and the Young Person’s Piano Competition.