Korean percussionists TAGO ready to ‘light up Hong Kong by beating drums’
- Group, which has earned rave global reviews for mix of rhythmic drumming and spellbinding dancing, will give two shows as part of city’s Cheers! Series
- Young musicians, seen in promotional video for this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, are looking forward to making Asian debut outside Korea
The Korean drumming group TAGO, which has received rave reviews around the world for its spectacular performances, will be playing in Hong Kong at the end of the month.
The young male percussionists take their name from the word “tago”, which means “lighting up the world by beating drums” – and they certainly do that.
The group’s two Hong Kong shows, titled “TAGO: Korean Drum” – which mark their Asian debut outside Korea – will feature a heady mix of vibrant rhythmic drumming, using a range of different-sized traditional Korean drums and percussion instruments, combined with spellbinding dancing and martial arts moves.
The group’s dramatic stage performance was captured in the promotional video for this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, in Korea.
The group, which has played at venues in the United States, Britain, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Africa, will perform at Tuen Mun Town Hall on December 28, and Tsuen Wan Town Hall on December 29.
The shows form part of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s annual ‘Cheers!’ Series, which provides a variety of family focused entertainment, including music, theatre and dance.
Ahead of the Hong Kong performances we spoke to Angella Kwon, artistic director of TAGO.
The troupe uses a variety of different Korean drums, so what are the challenges for the musicians in making them work together?
The performers all studied Korean traditional percussion at university.
Some of them started to learn the Joong-go (big drum), Dae-go (Gigantic drum) and Jang-gu (hourglass-shaped drum) when they were teenagers.
So, it is quite natural for us to put all these various instruments in one performance to showcase the variety of Korean drumming.
We always strive to deliver an outstanding performance out of these elements of Korean traditional percussion [and] spice it up with some ritual scenes and martial arts movements.
This combination creates a new energy that revitalises traditional Korean music.
What physical training do the musicians do to ensure they can effectively perform all the dynamic drumming movements?
When we learned the technique and essence of Korean traditional percussion, we also got to study different forms of traditional Korean art forms, such as classical rhythm, movement, ritual and folk dance.
‘TAGO: Korean Drum’ is not only about drumming, but also helps showcase all the different forms of Korean culture.
We rehearse and train almost every day, starting with a warm-up, then basic physical training, followed by percussion ensemble, brainstorming and then create new acts for several hours.
Do you modify TAGO’s performance based on the country where it is performing, or do you consider the performance to be universal?
Our performance is always the same, regardless of the countries where we perform. [But] we keep improving the show and make it better.
Whenever we perform overseas, we learn some vocabulary and phrases in the local language to communicate with the audience during the show, such as “Hello!”, “How are you?”, “Are you having a good time?” and “Thank you” and so on.
What is special about your two forthcoming Hong Kong performances?
We have been performing in Europe, America and South Africa, but it is our first time to play in Asia outside Korea.
As an Asian, I believe that we can relate to the Hong Kong audience easily and our hearts will beat with a similar rhythm.
We are looking forward to having a wonderful time with the Hong Kong audience. We simply cannot wait to meet you all.