US tour for world-class Malaysian drum troupe Hands Percussion in March 2020 (VIDEO)

Melanie Chalil
Hands Percussion during a performance at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre in October this year. — Picture courtesy of Hands Percussion/Thum Chia Chieh

PETALING JAYA, Dec 10 — Malaysian theatrical drumming ensemble Hands Percussion will be making their way to the United States in March for a tour.

This will be the group’s second tour in the US where they will be thrilling audiences with their 80-minute classic Drumbeat Inferno.

The drum troupe is scheduled to perform at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston, Texas on March 20 for the performing arts venue’s 2020 season-opening which marks the historic theatre’s 97th anniversary.

It will then move on to the Lone Tree Arts Center in Colorado.

The percussion group’s founder and artistic director Bernard Goh told Malay Mail the marketing campaigns for the performances in the two state-of-the-art performing arts venues are expected to reach tens of thousands in and around the state of Texas and Colorado.

“It is an opportunity for us to promote and celebrate Malaysia’s contemporary percussion industry as well as to showcase our diverse music, compositions and artistry in the US.

“It is also an opportunity for potential sponsors to reach a new international market with their support of this tour,” Goh said.

Described as a boundary-pushing piece, Drumbeat Inferno fuses Chinese-style drums with Southeast Asian music like gamelan together with Malaysian folk songs such as Rasa Sayang and western instruments.

Goh said it was important for such works to be encouraged and supported to foster intercultural appreciation and understanding as well as industry knowledge exchange.

Hands will also be showcasing Malaysia’s national heritage, the 24 Festive Drum art form, through this performance.

“The art form central to productions by Hands Percussion is also known worldwide and has a following in the US.

“Drumbeat Inferno will showcase how this art form has evolved and continues to persevere in a highly challenging industry,” Goh said.

Hands Percussion is currently raising funds for the tour as the group has to cover expenses such as flight tickets, cargo and visa fees.

“We plan to apply for grants, funding or sponsorship from both private and government organisations that not only support the arts but also see its true potential as a significant tool to empower the community we live in,” said Goh.

The group’s last performance in the US took place in September 2010 in Hawaii where they made an appearance in the East West Centre’s 50th-anniversary celebrations.

The renowned Malaysian percussion ensemble was established in 1997 and won audiences over with their groundbreaking and innovative performances.

They have been performing around the world since 2004 and have eight full-time performers, 25 part-time performers and 15 trainee performers.