Fri, Dec 23, 2005 - Page 13 News List

And the beat goes on

The Ju Percussion Group was the first of its kind in Taiwan and will perform alongside other international groups at the Taipei International Percussion Convention

By Derek Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

Percussion can be found throughout the human world with many cultures using it for worship. Here in Taiwan a local group which has been entertaining audiences for 20 years aims to become the nation's heartbeat.

"If there is another 20 years [of success], I'd like to see our group become a living symbol of pride for Taiwan. I'd like to see the troupe become a public asset. We could take percussion music to every corner of the world and could be present at every important music festival of the world," said Ju Tzong-ching (朱宗慶), founder and percussionist of the internationally renowned Ju Percussion Group (JPG) (朱宗慶打擊樂團).

Ju was referring to his dream for the future in a recent interview given to mark JPG's 20th anniversary on Jan. 2, 2006.

To celebrate the troupe's 20 years of success, JPG is scheduled to perform a series of concerts, starting Wednesday, called Percussions Nouvelles (世界擊樂新潮流), as part of the 2005 Taipei International Percussion Convention (TIPC) which is being held in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung. All of the performances in Taipei will take place at the National Concert Hall.

The TIPC has been held every three years since 1993 and has been attended by leading percussion ensembles of the world.

For the current TIPC, the organizer has ambitiously brought together seven of world's top-rated percussion troupes and two prestigious local percussion ensembles. The series of concerts will begin Wednesday and finish Jan. 2.

On the opening evening of this triennial convention, the younger JPG, the Ju Percussion Group 2 (JPG2), -- its 10 members are all aged under 25 -- will make its formal debut at the convention. Most of the young percussionists have been with the JPG for about two decades. Extensive training has equipped the performers who have held more than 50 concerts annually over the past few years with a solid musical education.

Wu Pei-ching (吳佩菁), principal percussionist of the JPG, said in an interview with the Philharmonic Radio Taipei that: "The JPG 2 is ready to drum up a very different style of music and rhythmic vitality to surprise audiences."

Other troupes performing at the TIPC include Via Nova percussion group, which consists of four young Austrians who won first prize at the International Percussion Competition in Luxemburg earlier this year.

Via Nova is scheduled to perform Thursday evening and will, according to the organizer's introductory statement, demonstrate great "delicacy in its music."

The ensemble from Croatia, biNg bang, which won the Percussive Arts Society ensemble competition last year, is performing during the second half of Thursday evening's concert.

The group from Eastern Europe will feature "idiosyncratic and iconoclastic style [music], often similar in its jazz-rock flavor and occasional silliness to Frank Zappa's music," the organizer said.

On Dec. 30, the high energy drumming group STRIKE from New Zealand is slated to wow audience members with "elements of theater, dance, invention and rhythmic intricacy."

The group seamlessly merges audio and visual stimuli and draws on a wide range of musical influences -- classical and contemporary -- to combine body movements and theatrical presentation.

An unusual grouping of four talented women from Japan, Korea and Taiwan will present a concert of marimba music on New Year's Eve at 2:30pm. The four Asian marimbists will compete with each other by playing the song Hook in rounds, working up to the climax of the concert.

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