Hong Kong International Drummer Festival: East meets West with collaborative concerts and rhythm workshops

Now in its second year, the festival will host drummers from Hong Kong, Germany and the US, including New York snare drum duo BYOS

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 August, 2017, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 August, 2017, 1:02pm

This year’s Hong Kong International Drummer Festival (HKIDE) is truly living up to its name by featuring performers and composers from not only Asia but also the US and Germany. Among those taking part in this month’s festival is BYOS, a contemporary American snare drum duo whose style is a mixture of hip-hop and marching band.

Now in its second year, the festival’s theme is inspired by “East-West fusion”. This materialises in a concert on August 11 between BYOS and eight local musicians – including Wang Youdi, Li Li-chin, and sisters Hsin Hsiao-hung and Hsin Hsiao-ling – who play traditional Chinese instruments such as the erhu, sheng and the guqin.

“Each instrument in this collaboration has its own frequency and range,” says Francis Tang, co-founder of HKIDF. “In bringing together BYOS’ snare drums, traditional Chinese string and woodwind instruments, and other instruments like the piano, we want to pursue an innovative ensemble of Western percussion and Chinese flavour.”

Other than concerts, the festival also runs Jazz, Funk and Reggae rhythm masterclasses, with one featuring German drummer Benny Greb and his iTunes-chart-topping band Moving Parts.

Tang wishes to bring percussion to the attention of the public. He says in Hong Kong playing the drums does not seem to be as popular as learning to play the piano, guitar or violin. “In reality, rhythm is an indispensable part of many genres and styles of music,” he says.

Tang adds that Hong Kong lacks a rhythm culture that is evident in foreign music. “When musicians from other countries make music and perform, they move their bodies naturally and flow with the groove. When local musicians do it, their movements look unnatural,” he says.

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Through this annual festival, Tang hopes to get everyone – from performers to the audience – into the groove for another year.

The 2nd Hong Kong International Drummer Festival, Kwai Tsing Theatre and Hong Kong Cultural Centre, until Aug 15. Tickets: HK$250 - HK$700. Inquiries: 3761 6661 or 5541 0923