Drumming kao kao for a good show

IT'S time we had a kao kao one,” Hands Percussion Team artistic director Bernard Goh said with a chuckle.  

Kao, the Malaysian slang denoting thickness, richness and intensity of beverages, is used to describe the team's upcoming performance scheduled for Oct 4 to 7 at the KL Performing Arts Centre.  

The concert titled 10: Entwined Callingis held in conjunction with the team's 10th anniversary.  

“In the beginning, the founders, Goh and administrative director Eric Ch'ng, who were brass band members, had only wanted to provide a platform for like-minded persons to continue playing drums after they left school.  

The informal gatherings gradually took on a more professional direction, and the team has since been making drums the centre of attention on stage by injecting plenty of creative and contemporary elements.  

Passionate pursuit:Passion is written clearlyon every performer's faceeven though it is only apractice.

Members of the team are also aggressively conducting workshops on the instrument in schools.  

They are also drumming their way into the hearts of many through corporate events and outreach programmes.  

For the anniversary concert, 10 local artistes who are successful in their individual capacity will show off their best alongside exquisite performances drummed up by the team. 

They are songstress Yudi, dancer Loke Soh Kim, theatre director Loh Kok Man, composers Kamrul Hussin, Kumar Karthigesu and Susan Sarah John, dance choreographer Choo Tee Kuang, musician Gideon Aluba, fashion designer Daniel Cho and photographer Kim Teoh.  

“We always feel that we have not done enough of what we want because we are often constrained by the commercial aspects. This is a long-awaited opportunity to do whatever we want,” Goh said during an interview at his office in Plaza UE3 recently at which several of the guest artistes were also present.  

Too many cooks spoil the broth, it is said, but this group is adamant that the saying does not apply to them.  

Tips: Goh (right) guiding his team members during oneof the practices.

“We know each other well,” Goh said. “Arguments and disagreements are good because we will eventually derive better results. It's meaningless if we do only what we are asked to do.”  

Yudi, who is famous for her mellifluous voice that is perfect for golden oldies, said gently:  

“This is a matured cooperation whereby we are here to contribute our special talents to the drum performances,” he said.  

Kumar, who will also be playing the sitar for the piece titled Water ... Engulf Me which he composed, added that he felt happy to be a part of the performance because it was a collective effort.  

“Yes, you may have disputes when you have two brains working on the same thing, but you are also having four hands on it so that will still do the project good,” he said.  

His piece is set to mesmerise the audience with the qualities of water. “Water is everywhere. It gives life and it takes life; it is extremely gentle yet it can be most destructive. The piece will show its many facets and how we humans have no choice but to surrender to water,” he said.  

Beat buddy: The Chinese drum is said to be a 'primitive' instrument;the drummers may share the same qualities but even so, toa certain extent, the drummer has to 'tame' his drum. This uniquebond between the drummer and his drum will be explored in asegment of '10: Entwined Calling'.

He said that the soothing strains of the sitar would penetrate through the beats of the Chinese drums to create the effects of water and to express dance movements.  

Famous musician and composer Kamrul took a moment to ponder before giving a brief introduction on his piece titled Inang Dogol. “I wanted to bring in too many ele ments,” he said with a smile.  

He loves to play around with ethnic instruments and is experimenting with substituting one instrument for another by playing it with a different technique. “You would think that you have heard the kompang, but you won't see anyone playing the kompang on stage!” he said.  

Elements of traditional Malay music, kompang music and Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet play) music have been injected into his piece.  

Not static: In additionto remembering theirscores, HandsPercussion Team membersplay dancers, too,as they have to memorisethe many movementsaccompanying thebeat of the drums.

Almost 20 types of percussive instruments, including the shigu (Chinese lion dance drum) and taogu (another type of Chinese drum), will be used for the piece.  

“I respect their (Hands Percussion Team members') commitment. I have no qualms about working together with them. It's an honour to me,” he said.  

Kamrul, however, will be representing the country in an international music festival in Korea at that time. His brother Kamarul Baisah Hussin, who is also an accomplished musician, will be playing at least four instruments during the segment.  

Susan said she would take on a new challenge in the performance; she had been writing for the Malay Gamelan set of five notes, and there would be three extra notes this time around.  

Yudi described the segment in which she would take part as “Chinese ink painting”.  

“Dancer Loke Soh Kim will dance gracefully to a multimedia presentation of black and white photographs of hand movements taken by famous shutterbug Kim Teoh, while the Chinese traditional instrument gu qing will be played in the background. This is already a beautiful ink painting. My role here is just to give this painting another dimension with my voice,” she said.  

Goh pointed out that theatre director Loh Kok Man also had something interesting in store for the audience.  

“He has trained my drummers for more than one year now, and they will be delivering something experimental. What do drummers do without the drums? Loh and the drummers will show you in the concert,” he said.  

The concert will culminate in a colourful and emotion-charged segment in which 24 drummers will be on stage trying to “tame” their instruments.  

“Our instrument is big; it looks primitive and it is very straightforward. This piece shows the unique relationship between the drummer and his drum,” Goh said.  

The charity performance at 8.30pm on Oct 4 is in aid of Shelter Home for Children. 

Other shows are at 8.30pm on Oct 5 and 6 (Friday and Saturday) and at 3pm on Oct 6 and 7 (Saturday and Sunday). Tickets are available at RM65 (adult), RM48 (student, senior citizen and the disabled) and RM100 (charity night).  

For enquiries, call 03-9282 4250 (Hands office), 017-625 5119 (Mayvis) or 012-393 9379 (Pei Yee), or visit www.hands.com.my or email to mail@hands.com.my

For bookings, call 03-4047 9000 (KLPac box office) or 03-2094 9400 (The Actors Studio, Bangsar Shopping Centre).  

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