HANDS Percussion has been actively performing and promoting the art of the Chinese drums ever since their establishment in 1997 under the helm of its founder and artistic direct, Bernard Goh. Within the 22 years, they have been performing in Malaysia and have also reached the stages and the hearts of many around the world.
A gamelan theatre performance marks another milestone for HANDS Percussion in their efforts to preserve and reinvent Malaysian traditional music and art, this time combining the Chinese drums and Malay and Balinese gamelan. After debut gamelan concert ‘Ri Yue Chu Yin’ in 2011 and the classical twist of ‘Tchaikovsky on Gamelan’ in 2014, the group takes its artistic progression further under the direction of one of Bali’s most gifted musicians, I Wayan Sudirana and talented Malaysian actor, director and writer Ghafir Akbar.
Taksu is a musical adaptation of literary work reflecting the spirit of artists arising beyond learned technical skills. It evokes elegance and drama through stories the musicians wish to tell through this performance. Sudi weaves the metallic sounds of the Malay and Balinese gamelan with the varying range of timber sounds of the Chinese drums elevating the diversity of each instrument. The soothing metallic calls of the gamelan coaxes responses from the drums, striking up a mixture of sounds like an animated conversation.
HANDS Percussion may have been formed by the love and passion its founder had for the drums, but over the years, Bernard has also expanded their passion for music with other percussion instruments. One of the instruments that he has incorporated and also had the experience playing with is the gamelan. HANDS began their journey with investing into their own gamelan set because they wanted to explore more about other musical influences in the country.
HANDS very first composition is dubbed “Armour and Skin”. Combining both the gamelan and Chinese drums, he mentions that “Armour” represents the gamelan whereby even though it is made of a hard material such as bronze, it still is able to “create a very soft sound, very sustained and a very echoing tune”. “Skin” on the other hand represents the drums where even though made with a softer material, is still able to create an outburst of loud sounds.
“HANDS percussion will never be Balinese gamelan but we embrace their art, we learn their art. Then we digest it and we turn it into something that we love” Bernard Goh expressed how beautiful these moments are to be able to combine influences from many different places and cultures together into one performance.
Established in 1997 by its Artistic Director, Bernard Goh, the group has often produced percussion shows admired for its musicality, artistry and playing precision. They have at times challenged audiences with unconventional ‘percussive’ work like a production held in July 2016 called ‘Opium’ which focused on artistic expressions of the different perspectives each individual has about life. The traditional versus futuristic production ‘The NEXT’ in 2012 won them 5 awards at the 10 th BOH Cameronian Awards.
At the latest 16th Cameronian Arts Awards 2019 the group won Best Production Values for ‘UNBEATABLE’ – Kaleidoscope 5, HANDS International Drumming Festival. A biyearly festival, it has grown in popularity drawing participants from all over the world.
Hands have also made an impression in the corporate and business world, playing at world business events like the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2015 in Davos, Switzerland, the World Currency Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur as well as at numerous international art festivals around the world like the 2018 Op Roakeldais in Warffum, Netherlands, Hello! Schoten 2018 in Belgium, in 2016 at the 35th International Festival “Les Sacres du Folklore” in France and at the 2016 Bali Spirit Festival in Bali.
In 2018, Hands were also guests artists at the International Festival of Theatre in Tblisi, Georgia performing their production ‘Dialogue in Skin’. Other international art festival destinations include Greece, Australia, Hawaii, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Dubai, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
HANDS Percussion has been in the performing arts scene for 22 years. Starting out with the traditional ’24-Festive Drums’ as the focus of their shows, the group’s current repertoire and capabilities are a clear testament to their drive and artistry. The gamelan, djembe, kompang, gendang, timpani, marimba, dance, stylised movement and many more are often elements seen in their productions. Productions often include collaborations with local and international artists.
With nearly 30 productions under their name, the group has gained a solid reputation for their trend setting creativity.
In a September 2016, during the second year of the KLIAF, Hands’ performance called Synthesis – ‘A Repertoire of Resonance’ at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, received a standing ovation from the audience that included guest of honour, the then 4th and now current, Prime Minister, Tun Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad
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