This year marks the 20th an­niver­sary of Hands Per­cus­sion, the world-class per­form­ing arts troupe that has cap­ti­vated au­di­ences all over the globe. To cel­e­brate this sig­nif­i­cant milestone, The Peak speaks with Founder and Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Bernard Goh abou

The Peak (Malaysia) - - Contents - Per­cus­sion Par­adise will take place at the Au­di­to­rium De­wan Ban­daraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) from 29 September to 1 Oc­to­ber as part of Di­verseCity 2017. Be sure to catch The Peak’s ex­clu­sive video in­ter­view with Bernard Goh on our web­site TEXT

This year marks the 20th an­niver­sary of Hands Per­cus­sion, the world-class per­form­ing arts troupe that has cap­ti­vated au­di­ences all over the globe. To cel­e­brate this sig­nif­i­cant milestone, The Peak meets Founder and Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Bernard Goh about his lat­est mas­ter­piece, Per­cus­sion Par­adise, which prom­ises to be one of the en­sem­ble’s most mind-blow­ing per­for­mances to date.

It was in 1997 when Bernard Goh, Founder and Artis­tic Di­rec­tor of Hands Per­cus­sion, de­cided to take a leap of faith and pur­sue his dream by set­ting up a troupe that would share his love of rhythm and mu­sic with the masses. Lit­tle did he know then that this de­ci­sion would be the start of some­thing truly spe­cial.

“When we first started out, we never imag­ined that we’d be here now with 35 pro­duc­tions, over 60 in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ances and a good num­ber of awards! We were just a bunch of guys who wanted to make loud mu­sic on our drums, who needed to be cre­ative and be heard,” Goh rem­i­nisces. “I am proud of my mem­bers as well as grate­ful to ev­ery­one who has helped us in any way to get to where we are to­day. That be­ing said, there is still a long road ahead, with many things to learn and do.” When asked if there was any­thing he would have changed if he could do it all over again, Goh re­veals that his vi­sion for Hands Per­cus­sion has al­ways been crys­tal clear: “Maybe not how I was go­ing to do it, but I knew I wanted to get it done. That’s how we work best, by fig­ur­ing things out as we go along. I need to be true to my­self and my team. What we do is ex­per­i­men­tal and some­thing we feel strongly about. It is hon­est and raw. So, there are no re­grets.”

It is per­haps this re­lent­less drive to break bound­aries by pre­sent­ing some­thing new and un­con­ven­tional that has en­abled Goh to trans­form Hands Per­cus­sion into the world­class multi-dis­ci­plinary per­form­ing arts en­sem­ble it is to­day. Just last year, the group cel­e­brated a ma­jor milestone with Syn­the­sis: A Reper­toire of Res­o­nance, which marked its first-ever per­for­mance at Kuala Lumpur’s premier con­cert hall, De­wan Fil­har­monik Petronas. Dur­ing this spe­cial show­case, the au­di­ence was treated to sev­eral pieces se­lected from the troupe’s nu­mer­ous per­for­mances in the past, which in­cluded the award-win­ning Tchaikovsky on Game­lan from 2014.

Ac­cord­ing to Goh, while each production is dif­fer­ent, his lat­est rhyth­mic tour de force, Per­cus­sion Par­adise, which is part of this year’s Di­verseCity, holds a spe­cial place in his heart: “It is a gift that ex­presses our past 20 years of per­form­ing as an en­sem­ble, and also cel­e­brates the group’s vary­ing pro­duc­tions that have re­sulted from our ex­ten­sive trav­el­ling and col­lab­o­ra­tions with var­i­ous artists.

“Per­cus­sion Par­adise is also a re­flec­tion of how we have grown as per­form­ers – not only from every­thing that we have ex­pe­ri­enced as a group, but also through the dif­fer­ent types of phys­i­cal and per­cus­sion train­ing that we’ve en­dured along the way. Our teach­ers and in­struc­tors will also be join­ing us on stage for this per­for­mance, and we have chore­ographed and com­posed pieces just for them, which was one of the main chal­lenges of this production.”

Of course, none of this would have ever been pos­si­ble with­out the sup­port of those who have fol­lowed the group’s jour­ney from the very be­gin­ning. As Goh thank­fully states: “We wouldn’t be here with­out our fans and crit­ics, our fam­ily mem­bers and friends in the me­dia as well as the in­dus­try. Many of them have stood by us over the years – through our highs and lows as well as non-typ­i­cal ex­per­i­men­tal pro­duc­tions like Souls in Love, Lafaz Gema, Tchaikovsky on Game­lan and OPIUM.

“If any­thing, I would like to tell them to take any in­spi­ra­tion that they get from our pro­duc­tions or the other things we do, and use it to make good choices and nur­ture pos­i­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the peo­ple they care about. This can be through com­mu­nity work, teach­ing or just about any­thing that stirs their soul. It’s all about sup­port­ing and be­ing there for one an­other.” He adds: “How an au­di­ence mem­ber in­ter­prets a show is based not only on what they see and hear, but also on the kind of per­son they are, which is linked to their val­ues, ex­pe­ri­ences, ex­pec­ta­tions and so forth. For Per­cus­sion Par­adise, I can only hope that the au­di­ence will come with an open mind and no ex­pec­ta­tions.”

As for the fu­ture, Goh re­veals that he has pon­dered over what he would like to achieve within the next decade: “Hope­fully, by then, Hands Per­cus­sion will be fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent, which will give us the free­dom to do what­ever we like on our own terms. This can be for both artis­tic rea­sons as well as the ben­e­fit of the per­form­ing arts com­mu­nity and so­ci­ety through es­tab­lish­ing pos­i­tive ini­tia­tives suit­able for all ages. We’re also look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity of launch­ing our very own multi-pur­pose per­form­ing arts cen­tre that will fo­cus on pro­gres­sive per­cus­sion – a space where artists and oth­ers in­ter­ested in this dis­ci­pline can con­verge, learn and share with one an­other.”

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