Hands Percussion drums up strength, finds a new rhythm to move forward

  • Arts
  • Thursday, 16 Jul 2020

A traditional and contemporary percussive mix on the virtual stage hardly compares to a booming live concert. But the beat must go on. All the explosive and energetic qualities of a Hands Percussion show have to now be experienced through online channels.

A live stage show from this award-winning Malaysian percussion group will have to wait. Earlier this month, Hands Percussion presented a mini show titled Be Our Guest on Youtube, which served as a warm-up for its upcoming online concert Reflections, a ticketed event.

Directed by Hands Percussion’s co-founder Bernard Goh, the digital concert Reflections will be streamed live from the Damansara Performing Arts Centre’s (DPAC) Theatre on July 18

It will be broadcast via DPAC’s Youtube channel at 8pm. Tickets cost RM23 for this 75-minute show.

Reflections is Hands Percussion taking stock of ourselves and our past and using all of that to move forward the best way we know how, through our art, ” shares Goh.

“The ability to find beauty under any circumstances is a reflection of a person’s state of mind and character. It’s with this premise that we begin to reflect on, who we truly are, our past experiences and how best to carry on, ” he adds.

Originally scheduled for a February run, Reflections was cancelled due to the pandemic.

This virtual staging, which includes 14 performers, kicks off DPAC’s new format for live theatre called "DPAC Live", where stage performances will be ticketed and streamed online.

Video production house D Moving Pictures will assist DPAC technically in recording and streaming the performance.

Reflections will feature the drum ensemble’s core members and full-timers who are known as Hands 1. These include Hands’ principal percussionist Jimmy Ch’ng Lip Hann, Ng Siu Yee, Tee Wee Lin, Jack Wan, Reid Yeap, Tee Leong Hoe, Phang Jian Hao, Goh Kok Wei and Tan Zhe Hao.

To give the show a blend of traditional and classical elements, Reflections will also feature guest performers such as traditional artiste and National Arts Awards winner Zamzuriah Zahari, Malay gendang specialist Mat Din Hussin, erhu player Lim Wei Siong and soprano and musical theatre performer Evelyn Toh.

For the digital concert, the ensemble will be using 11 types of drums, namely shigu (lion dance drum), jingu (barrel drum), handpan, shime taiko (small Japanese drum), taogu (Chinese barrel drum), gendang ibu, big red drum, gendang anak, kompang jidor, timbale and the rebana.

The programme includes Armour And Skin 2019 (a musical show by Hands and Gamelan Yuganada from last year’s George Town Festival), JU4JI2, a piece Hands performed for a 2015 Chinese New Year concert, and Satu, a new composition by Hands 1 member Phang, with lyrics by Goh and Zamzuriah.

A video of Satu was released earlier this week on Hands Percussion's Youtube channel.

"Satu which started as a simple tone on the handpan composed by one of my members, Jian Hao, has turned into a song we hope inspires you to stand together with your loved ones, your friends, colleagues and your community. I invited Zam to co-write lyrics to it, fitting the situation all of us in Malaysia, all of us as artists, faced together at the start of the movement control order here," says Goh.

At the moment, Goh is looking to "drum up strength and find a new rhythm to move forward" with Hands Percussion. It won't be the easiest of times ahead, but he hopes to organise, at least, another performance at the end of the year.

"I'm not sure if it's going to be purely on-site or just digital or both. Right now, we will concentrate on what's immediately ahead of us - the upcoming show Reflections.

“With this performance streamed live, it is even more crucial that the sentiment of hope and opportunity comes through. That is what we would like to share with our audiences,” he concludes.

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