By Libby Binks
On 5 October Taiwan’s leading percussion ensemble, the Ju Percussion Group, will perform in the UK for the first time as part of their 30th anniversary European tour celebrations.
The Barbican will host this virtuosic group as they dazzle audiences with their breath-taking, dramatic and highly theatrical show.
In 1986, the Ju Percussion Group met at a hot pot restaurant in Taipei and announced to the world that Taiwan’s very first professional percussion band had been born. In 1992, the Ju Percussion Group introduced its instruction system, which swept the country with its absorbing and authentic teaching format. Since then, the Ju Percussion Group has gone on to become a treasured institution in Taiwan and across the world. Today, in addition to having established 29 percussion music schools around the world, the Ju Percussion Group has recently entered the Chinese and Australian markets.
The group have a strong sense of team spirit and work together with a respect and natural collaboration as if they were family. Such stability is reinforced by the majority of the performers having been with the ensemble for at least 10 – 15 years. The group is also a firm believer in equality with seven out of the 12 musicians being women.
The Ju Percussion Group have transformed percussion music in many ways, but by commissioning a vast body of new work from contemporary composers – over 210 new pieces to date – the ensemble has established new repertoire for percussion that will stand as a legacy for many years to come.
The entire programme for their London show will consist of new works, including a piece by the French composer Gérard Lecointe, but the secret to the group’s success is the way they defy boundaries and commission works that combine modernity with a more traditional, classical approach. The ensemble’s fusion of traditional Asian, Western classical and contemporary drumming showcases musicianship at its finest and the thrillingly staged and seamlessly choreographed show features an exotic range of over 300 pieces of percussion instruments from gongs, drums and marimbas to Lion Dance drums and bamboo percussion from Indonesia.
To see them perform it is clear that they are dedicated heart and soul to their craft and are truly pioneers of percussion, but it is the theatrical and choreographed elements to the show that gives the music an extra dimension and makes this a must-see show not merely to aficionados of drumming and percussion, but to anyone who enjoys seeing and hearing the grace and beauty of masters at the top of their game.
The Ju Percussion Group will be performing at London’s Barbican Centre on 5 October, 7.30pm. For more details and ticketing information call the Barbican box office on 0207 638 8891 or visit www.barbican.org.uk.