• Ju Percussion Group from Taipei took the audience on a memorable journey. /Photo:International Cultural Promotions

More than just beats

Art September 24, 2018 01:00

By Pawit Mahasarinand
Special to The Nation

6,139 Viewed

A Taiwanese percussion group makes its triumphant Thailand debut

FANS of the Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance and Music, now in its 20th year, probably have fond memories of Taiwanese contemporary performance groups like Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and U-Theatre. And that’s thanks to the cooperation between the festival’s organiser International Cultural Promotions (ICP) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand (Tecot). And now that the Republic of China is promoting cultural exchange with Southeast Asia with its southbound policy, we were given another treat last Sunday with Ju Percussion Group’s (JPG) concert “Stunning Virtuosity”, which more than lived up to its title.

Ju Percussion Group from Taipei took the audience on a memorable journey. /Photo:International Cultural Promotions


The energy and charm of this ensemble could be felt as soon as their members walked onto Thailand Cultural Centre’s main stage. The keenly designed programme juxtaposed French composer Gerard Lecointe’s “Epilogues” with Liu Yu-Yun’s “Zhong Kui Marrying His Sister Off” which featured pipa musician Chung Pei-Lin. The first part finished with a bang in “Solar Myth” in which the male percussionists put on masks – their folding fans were not to cool them down in tropical Thailand –and their sole female counterpart red arm accessories. No member was confined to just one instrument, and at many moments it looked like a dance piece, a performance with which the musicians were obviously comfortable. 

And while the last piece Ho Hong-Chi’s “Drumming Fest” was an emphatic finale, the audience’s applause suggested clearly they hadn’t seen and heard enough of the Taiwanese group. In a straight line downstage full-fronting the audience, they made use of different parts of their bodies as percussion instruments in “Body Language” and then sent the audience smiling our way home with a popular tune of Latin origin, “Love Story.”

In the end, “Stunning Virtuosity” didn’t only show the Taiwanese ensemble’s prowess. This cultural ambassador showed how tradition and modernity as well as the West and the East live together happily in contemporary Taiwan, and reminded us again that music is after all a universal language. 

It took 32 years for JPG to make their Thailand debut, and this is the 33rd country they have performed in. I’m sure we won’t have to wait until the 50th edition of this festival before we get to experience this musical bliss again. 

And I’m not the only member of the audience who also wishes the Taiwanese group had more time to exchange with their Thai counterparts and further strengthen the ties between our two countries and our diverse cultures.

The writer thanks the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand’s for all kind assistance.

The Festival Continues

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Republic of Korea and Thailand, the Korean Symphony Orchestra performs this evening.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) performs “Classical Weddings” on Wednesday evening.

Most performances in the festival start at 7:30pm at the Thailand Cultural Centre.

Tickets are from Bt 1,000 to Bt 3,000 at www.ThaiTicketMajor.com. 

Find out more at www.BangkokFestivals.com.