Promoting peace through the universal language of Music
Music is a universal language that is understood by people speaking in different tongues. And for four years now, a group of international percussionists have been playing in Myanmar to promote peace and understanding among the 135 ethnic groups in the country.
Initiated in 2015 at the National Theatre, “Gongs and Skins” – an international percussion project – brought music and ethnic diversity together through instruments, laying down a marker for way they think music should be played. This year, from November 8 and 12, they will entertain Myanmar citizens in open air concerts with the untiring and unwavering message of peace.
Their percussions will be presented to the people of Yangon and Hpa-An in a fresh performance that is expected to be both entertaining and at the same time educational. The Myanmar traditional Hsaing Waing and ethnic percussion instruments will lead the international team, which features performers from Asia, Africa and Europe.
German percussion artist and artistic director of the project, Professor Bernhard Wulff told a press conference on Monday that the project will bring a lot of surprising music that no one has ever heard before.
“Cultural dialogue is more important than ever today” Wulff, who leads the musicians, told reporters. “We can find a family of percussionists from around the world and it’s very easy to communicate even if they are speaking in different languages. They understand each other through their instruments.
“We invited musicians from 10 different countries to come here not just to make music but to create a peaceful model for society with their instruments. We met some of the traditional musicians here several times and we know there is something growing. Each musician understands the music much better than before”
Percussionist troupes from Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and Poland as well as Africa, alongside groups from Kayin, Bamar, Shan and Rakhine states, will be taking part in the week-long music festival, playing new forms of music, which substitutes for language as a means of communication.
“I’m very glad to join this concert by representing our Rakhine ethnic people” said Tun Win, leader of the Rakhine Percussion Ensemble.
“People from the world have their own cultural music. Instead of playing their own music in front of their own people they share it with us. It will be a peaceful dialogue among cultures if the different cultures and music perform together in front of the people and create a new form.”
Rakhine instrumentalists will present their traditional drums on stage alongside with the other traditional or international percussion instruments such as Hsaing Waing and vibraphone as well as the instrument from Wolof people, a West African Ethnic group found in North-western Senegal.
Percussion traditions are one of the treasures of South Fast Asia and Myanmar adds its own distinctive part to this outstanding variety of percussive forms. Drumming figures prominently in the traditional Myanmar folk or-chestra Hsaing Waing that have almost all developed their own percussive instruments and forms, adding to the richness of Myanmar music.
Gongs and Skins is organised by the Goethe Institute, in partnership with the European Union Delegation in Myanmar and with support from the embassies of Den-mark and Italy.
Gongs & Skins III international percussion festival opened on November 1 at YMCA and already held a concert at Goethe Villa yesterday with free entrance. Another free outdoor concert wifi be held at 6:30pm in Maha Ban-doola Park on November 8. After that, the musicians will travel to conclude the festival with a concert on Novem-ber 12 in Hpa-an.
For more information, visit Goethe Institute' Facebook page at www.facebook.com/goetheinstitut.myanma.