(Standing, from third left) National Department for Culture and Arts cultural arts development director Salehhuddin Md Salleh, Royal Selangor International director Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen, Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival, DiverseCity festival director Datin Sunita Rajakumar, Damansara Performing Arts Centre chief executive officer Datin Jane Lew, HappyWater chairman Bernhard Schutte, Tunku Zain, Goh, Tarpaga and Khind Holdings Bhd group chief executive officer Cheng Ping Keat together with the members of HANDS at the press conference.
HANDS Percussion has seen the ups and downs of the Malaysian performing arts scene, but it’s still going strong and is entering its 20th year.
In celebrating two decades this year, the local Chinese percussion ensemble has unveiled its theme for 2017 – “Artistry Inspiring Change”.
Hands Percussion founder and artistic director Bernard Goh said the reason Hands did what it did was because the team wanted to raise awareness on social and economic issues.
“We want to raise awareness that art can inspire change, and change is what is needed,” said the Seremban-born Goh, who was a lecturer and graphic designer before he started the group in 1997.
“We know that many things can be chaotic, but what we can do as performers is to use the arts to make a change,” he said.
“When Hands first started out, it was like a dream. Reaching the 20-year milestone now, it’s time to dream together and turn it into reality.
“And we want to tell Malaysians that doing performing arts in Malaysia is possible,” he added.
Goh said the group had plans to hold concerts in more states. Four have been set for April and May.
Hands also introduced its new patron, Negri Sembilan prince Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin Tuanku Muhriz, the founding president of Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).
A supporter of the local performing art scene, the prince loves the diversity in music that Hands brings, as evident from its “Tchaikovsky on Gamelan” concert.
“The thing I love about Hands is how much they give back to the community – teaching how to play percussions to underprivileged children, introducing drumming to kids in the kampung, holding fundraising concerts and initiatives for hearing-impaired individuals,” said Tunku Zain at a press conference on Friday.
As the prince is a pianist himself, the audience can look forward to a concert featuring Tunku Zain and Hands, said Goh.
He revealed that Hands 1 and Hands 2, the two groups in the ensemble, would also be performing an 80-minute programme of their favourite pieces during their nationwide tour of four cities in April and May.
This includes Johor Baru on April 1 at the Auditorium FGS Hsing Ma Temple at 3pm, Ipoh on April 15 at the Auditorium Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negara Perak at 8.30pm, George Town on April 29 at Dewan Budaya, USM Penang at 8.30pm, and Kuantan on May 6 at the Auditorium Darul Makmur (ADAM) Sultan Ahmad Shah, RTM Kuantan at 3pm.
Entry fee is via a donation of RM100, with an early bird promotion of RM80 for the first 100 attendees. Hands club members are eligible for a Buy 1-Free 1 offer, limited to a maximum of four tickets.
Hands also expects to perform with Dafra Drums of Burkina Faso, West Africa in August, showcasing a fusion of African and Asian rhythms. The venue is yet to be confirmed.
Those interested in African dance and the melding of the shigu (lion drum) and djembe can join the workshops by Dafra Drums founder and artistic director Olivier Tarpaga, which is currently on until Mar 22.
On Sept 22 to 24, DeafBeat, a group of eight hearing-impaired youths, will be challenging conventional wisdom with the 10th anniversary concert at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC).
Hands will also be celebrating its 20th anniversary at the “Percussion Paradise” concert, which will be part of the Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival, DiverseCity2017, at the end of September.
A revamped website, new Royal Selangor merchandise and a 20th anniversary book are also scheduled.
For details or to purchase tickets, call 03-6141 4480 / 012-502 6883 / 012-779 8009, visit www.fb.com/handspercussion or email firstname.lastname@example.org