Gongs & Skins Music Festival to be held in Yangon and some across the country

06 November 2018

Myanmar is to be celebrating International Percussion Project titled Gongs & Skins, with the main organizer, Goethe-Institut in partnership with the European Union Delegation in Myanmar and with support from the Embassies of Denmark and Italy.                                                              

2018 is the European year of culture and heritage. The Gongs & Skins percussion festival is one of the highlights of the programs for this year. European Union is celebrating the European year of culture and heritage to encourage people across the globe, to discover European Culture and Heritage and also engage in intercultural dialogue.

For over one weeklong music festival, instrumentalists form all across Myanmar and Europe join together to perform in Myanmar. Percussionists from the Myanmar Hsaing Waing, the Kayin, Rakhine and Shan communities are performing collaboratively with percussionists from Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and Poland.

German percussion artist and expert professor Bernhard Wulff explained percussion instruments can be made from woods, metals or skins and more.

“The family of percussion instrument is huge. You can find them all cultures in the world. Mainly, they are made by woods, metals, or skins. Here, in Myanmar, you have many gongs and you have many skin instruments. Our festival is intercultural meeting. Many percussion instruments we are using in Europe are coming from Asian countries: African and South American countries.”

Professor Bernhard Wulff said, Gongs & Skins is nice and precise title for the music festival.

“It is easy for us to communicate without speaking the same language but we have the same music language. So, I decided Gongs & Skins is nice and precise title for percussion festival here in this country, Myanmar.”

Among the total of 50 instrumentalists from all across the world, Professor Bernhard Wulff expressed that to find the right combination is a challenge for him.

“There are altogether 50 instrumentalists from all across the world. So, the problem is to find the right combination between the groups from outside which are very different and to connect them depending on the size of the group and music style of the group. Some traditional music groups are more melodic and some others are more rhythmic. Sometimes, the music is connected with language or song. It is a matter of decision which takes some times.”

 Culture understanding by exchanging culture is so important for connection between countries and regions, says H.E Kristian Schmidt, Ambassador of the European Union to Myanmar.

“European Union is very keen to strengthen connectivity between Europe and Asia, supporting infrastructure, connecting people in digital network, trade relations, economic and Development Corporation. But, it is also important to remember that the connection between countries and regions, they need also to be supported by culture understanding by exchanging the culture. That’s why, this festival is very important.”

H.E Kristian Schmidt further remarked that Culture and Creative Industry represents 3 percent of global wealth creation. So, it is important for the country like Myanmar opening up to the world gets their shares of wealth and job opportunities created by cultures. It is not just tourism. It is also a copy right and trade mark making sure that Myanmar Local Musical Culture is sold and advertised to the world.

One of the Gongs & Skins music festival partners, Ambassador of Italy to Myanmar, H.E Alessandra Schiavo explained that music is so beautiful and powerful that it does not need any translation to understand.

“Music is a powerful instrument which does not need any translation. It is the form of art and also painting. To better understand the painting, you need to know the cultural background about the artist’s historical period which is originated the particular artistic movement. But the music is even more direct. The music surrounds you but the painting can’t because it is one dimensional only. Music just flows with the air. It hits the fun and imagination of people. It does not need any translation, while the book needs to be translated. I love writing and reading. But books must be translated. Music does not need translation. That’s it is so beautiful and so powerful.”

The percussion music festival will be held at the Goethe Villa on November 6 Tuesday, at the Maharbandoola Park on November 8 Thursday, and in Hpa-an, Kayin State on November 12.