THE DRUMS OF HONG KONG RESOUND! 港鼓再飆聲 | Hong Kong, Cultural Centre Concert Hall

The highlight of this pounding, pulsating concert is the premiere of two new works: Don, compiled and arranged for a collaboration of drum ensembles Refiner Drums and GEKKO, and Unknown Land by Ng Cheuk-yin, commissioned by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (HKCO), an orchestral jazz-rock piece that showcases a contemporary rock kit.

Raised above the orchestra on a central platform, drummer Lawrence Tsui gives a tour de force, pounding the bass drum with double and triple tapping, for a truly heart-stopping sound. The orchestra keep up with the breakneck speed of the music’s heavy-duty, angular lines, reminiscent of acoustic progressive metal, or a computer game. In fact, the drums are a little too loud: more could be made of the Eco-Bass Gehu (Sylvain Gagnon) and the orchestra in general.

The finale of Don exploits the deafening sound of about forty drummers, from Chinese ensemble Refiner Drums and Japanese Taiko ensemble GEKKO. It is particularly astounding to see a trio from GEKKO straddling their massive drums while lying down. Both ensembles are vast but exceptionally well-synced, especially in the quiet moments, with excellent dynamic contrast between each persussion family.

The concert’s finale, Let The Thunder of Drums Roll, composed by conductor Chew Hee Chiat, invites the audience to join in the explosive noise with our own shouts and mini, HKCO-branded monkey drums. Here, we also hear HKCO’s own magnificent percussion ensemble, including the stunning wall of yunluo cloud gongs. Of course, this kind of programme is not going to please the purists. But for everyone else, this unbelievably exciting and accessible concert just makes our hearts beat for more.

Playing 30 – 31 October 2021 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall.

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