Hands Percussion strikes a common chord with its diverse rhythms

  • Arts
  • Wednesday, 05 Nov 2014

Kumar Karthigesu’s music leans on Indian traditional roots to Malaysia’s rich, cultural, social and musical heritages.

Hands Percussion’s drum festival to show how rhythm produces meaning in music and in life.

Touted as its biggest and most exciting self-produced drum festival to date, Kaleidoscope III by Hands Percussion held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), starting tomorrow, is set to thrill audiences with a dazzling line-up of local and international acts (from Netherlands, Norway and Vietnam).

Speaking exclusively to SwitchUp.tv, Hands Percussion’s artistic director Bernard Goh elaborated about the theme of the upcoming festival at an interview at Royal Selangor in Kuala Lumpur.

“The theme for the show is ‘rhythm of the heart’,” reveals Goh who founded Hands Percussion with Eric Ch’ng back in Kuala Lumpur in 1997.

“This year, we’ve been really busy travelling a lot and playing a lot of festivals. Now that it’s almost at the end of the year, we need to get back to ourselves and listen to what we want and who we really are before we can move forward. So in way, this show is like a wish for a good year in 2015 because this year’s has been quite a testing one for Malaysia,” he adds.

After Hands Percussion’s mesmerising Tchaikovsky On Gamelan show series in Kuala Lumpur in August, the group went off to South Korea to participate in the Seoul Drum Festival in September. Now it is all systems go for its third drumming festival this month.

Norwegian trio Sisu percussion ensemble is set to dazzle with its renegade sound explorations and madcap combinations of timbres.
Based in Amsterdam, the Bi-Hots duo, featuring Javier Murugarren (R) and

Javier Olaizola, will be shaking KLPac from side to side with its exotic percussive

instruments and energetic live choreography.

Besides thrilling performances of percussive mastery, the festival will also feature workshops conducted by both Hands Percussion and its guest artistes. The Kaleidoscope III programme will be spread over the course of 10 days and two entertainment filled weekends.

The first week of the festival will be dedicated to showcasing the talented winners of the recently held National Secondary School 24 Festive Drumming Competition – including a troupe all the way from Kuala Kemaman, a small fishing village in Terengganu. It will be performing its winning compositions.

Other highlights this weekend include a show by YMCA’s Deafbeat, coached by Goh, as well as performances by a four-year-old student as well as a 72-year-old drummer. As an added treat, a group comprising a 100 student drummers will also be showing off their skills to kick-start each of this weekend’s performances.

The second week, which starts Nov 14, will see performances from Hands 1 and Hands 2 as well as shows from three international groups – the Bi Hots duo from the Netherlands, who will be playing the hang and the Txalaparta, a traditional Basque musical instrument made of wood; Binh Minh Ensemble from Vietnam with traditional instruments that range from the nguyet, a two-stringed Vietnamese instrument to the t’rung, a bamboo xylophone; and Sisu Percussion from Norway, one of Scandinavia’s most prominent contemporary percussion ensembles.

On the local front, three diverse acts will be bringing their unique brand of showmanship and musicality to the stage – Kamrul Hussin and Geng Wak Long, Kumar Karthigesu & Friends and No Noise Percussion.

Kumar Karthigesu’s music leans on Indian traditional roots to Malaysia’s rich, cultural, social and musical heritages.
Kamrul Hussin and Geng Wak Long will be out to remind the masses about the infectious appeal of traditional Kelantanese


Kamrul, a graduate of the National Academy of Arts and the current Distinguished Creative Scholar at the Faculty of Music at UITM, founded Geng Wak Long with family members to specialise in Kelantanese traditional art genres such as wayang kulit, Dikir Barat, Kelantanese silat, Mak Yong, Tari Inai and other Malaysian east coast art forms.

Already a recognised sitar performer and composer in Malaysia, Kartigesu will be joined on stage by Prakash Kandasamy on tabla, Achyutan Sashidaran Nair on Indian violin and Selvendra on cajon.

Formed in late 2007, No Noise Percussion is inspired by percussion groups like Stomp Out Loud, Blue Man Group and Madaiko Yamato to make unique music on ordinary objects such as car exhaust pipes, traffic cones and water pipes. The group, based in the Klang Valley, uses recycled objects and modifies them to support its performance.

“I think it’s immensely important for festivals like Kaleidoscope III to prosper and continue,” offers Karthigesu, a faculty member and tutor at the Temple of Fine Arts and a part time lecturer at the National Academy of Art, Culture and Heritage (Aswara).

“We are a developing, multi-cultural nation and while there is only so much politics, science and technology can do, art is something that has the ability to go beyond borders. I think if there’s a way forward for a nation like ours, it’s through events like this,” he adds.

> Kaleidoscope III runs from Nov 7–9 and Nov 14–16 at KLPac Pentas 1 in Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan (off Jalan Ipoh), KL. For details, visit klpac.org and ticketpro.com.my, or call KLPac's box-office at 03-40479000. Workshop details are on Facebook, or you can call 03-61414480. To check out a video about Kaleidescope III, visit switchup.tv.

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