‘Life Cycle’ or ‘IMoTAS' as it was originally called, was first composed by Paul Philbert MBE in 1994 inspired by the sudden passing of his tutor, and friend earlier the same year. In 2011, Paul rearranged the piece using a combination of electronica, live and pre-recorded percussion and the Gamelan, for Hands Percussion’s debut gamelan concert ‘RI YUE CHU YIN’ telling a story of birth, life, tragedy and hope. 

The British Council Connections Through Culture Grant brought Hands and Paul together again to collaborate online for Life Cycle 2021.

'Life as we know it has been tumultuously unpredictable lately. Much more than before. But after every storm there is a calm, in which hope and perseverance allows for us to move on, restart.' - Bernard of Hands Percussion.

Life Cycle 2021 reflects this; the uncertainty of life, the strength of persevering through it all, and hope to manoeuvre this crazy world. With Peter-Jan Steen, Tan Su Yin and Chia Cheng Kok as guest artists on the gong and bass drums, marimba and the timpani, Paul introduces a new arrangement for a new cycle.

The Life Cycle 2021 project created opportunities for musicians in Malaysia and the UK to continue exchanging culture, inspiration, and skills despite restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

Watch the filmed live performance of Life Cycle 2021.

Hands Percussion

Hands Percussion is a Malaysian percussions ensemble comprising Bernard Goh Seang Heong, Ch'ng Lip Hann, Wan Wai Keat , Goh Kok Wei, Tan Zhe Hao and Paz Lim. The group was founded by Bernard in 1997, who now serves as its Artistic Director. In the industry for nearly 25 years HANDS have produced numerous innovative and creative performances. Some award-winning ones are ‘Drum Slices - HANDS STUDENTS CONCERT 2006’, ‘Drum Slices 3 - Rhythm Ride 2008’, ‘Kaleidoscope 1 - HANDS Drumming Festival, Jom Jom Drums! 2009’, ‘Dreams in November 2009’, ‘RI YUE CHU YIN - The Birth of HANDS PERCUSSION Gamelan 2011’, ‘Knocking - featuring HANDS 1 2011’, ‘Tchaikovsky On Gamelan 2014’, ‘Kaleidoscope III - HANDS Drumming Festival, Rhythm of the Heart 2014’, ‘Kaleidoscope 4 - HANDS International Drumming Festival 2016, Drumming Nation’ and ‘Kaleidoscope 5 - HANDS International Drumming Festival 2018, UNBEATABLE’. As full-time percussionists, they have performed at notable local and international festivals such as the Bali Spirit Festival (Indonesia), 33rd Festival Mondial de Folklore de la Ville de Saint Ghislain (Belgium), 35th International Festival "Les Sacres du Folklore" (France), the Grand Performance Festival with SuperEverything* (Los Angeles) in 2016 and the International Festival of Theatre in Tbilisi Georgia 2018. Their most current international performance was at the Dubai World Expo 2020 in January 2022. An essential part of the group’s passion and drive comes from coaching young children from local schools and adults the art of drumming and percussion.

Paul Philbert MBE

Paul Philbert MBE is a Timpanist with extensive music knowledge and experience in various prestigious music establishments such as the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (where he was the founding Principal Timpanist), Royal Opera House, BBC Symphony and currently the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Principal Timpanist). He was a guest consultant working with Hands Percussion to interpret Tchaikovsky’s classics onto the traditional Malay gamelan, which became nominated for 6 awards at the 12th BOH Cameronian Awards and won 2 for Best Solo Performance (Instrumental) and Best Musical Director/Conductor.

Discover more Connections Through Culture collaborations here.

Check out the opportunities from British Council here.