The Ministry of Culture extended an invitation to Lord Richard Faulkner, a visiting member of the UK’s House of Lords, and representatives from various countries to Taiwan to attend “Drumming Up the Light – An Experimental Performance of Lights and Music” at Taipei Railway Workshop on Jan. 27.
After the performance, the honored guests were then brought on stage to experience first-hand the uniqueness of Taiwanese drums. Deputy Minister of Culture Yang Tzu-pao stated that he hopes to promote cultural exchange between countries through experiences such as this experimental combination of music, lights, and heritage assets.
Yang noted that Lord Faulkner of Worcester, as a former co-chair of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, has made several visits to Taiwan before, and has a long history of interest in issues around transport, sports, human rights, and air pollution.
Additionally, he is something of a trainspotter, a lover of railways and railway culture who made a special visit to the Taipei Railway Workshop last September. Through this kind of cultural experience, the Ministry of Culture hopes to propel both Taiwanese percussion and Taiwanese railway culture onto the world stage, Yang added.
Ten Drum Art Percussion Group has long established its own uniquely Taiwanese style of percussion, drawing on local themes and diverse ethnic musical elements. The Grammy-winning and Golden Melody-nominated group was invited to perform “Drumming Up the Light” on a stage set up in a 168-meter-long, 20.4-meter-tall factory inside Taipei Railway Workshop.
Their performance was held alongside a showcase of three heritage models – an EMU100-series rail car, a retired luggage/passenger car that was commonly used by Taiwan from 1949 through 1995, and a Japan Rail 583-series sleeper car.
The performance began with a story from an old workshop director, with some of the percussion pieces emulating the rhythms of old workshop tools. The clever arrangement of “Drumming, Banging, and Lighting” led the audience to reminisce about the mechanical sounds and sparks of train repairs, transforming the magnificent history of Taipei Railway Workshop into a powerful sensory experience.
Hosted by a national historic building and presented through the medium of performing arts, the past of Taipei Railway Workshop and its place in Taiwanese rail history was brought to the forefront of contemporary attention by these performers.
Taipei Railway Workshop was constructed in the 1930s and remains the oldest and most complete railway workshop in Taiwan, with its own place of significance in Taiwan’s architectural history, labor culture, and transportation development.
Train maintenance and related work were moved to a workshop in Taoyuan in 2012, and in 2015 Taipei Railway Workshop was designated a national historic building. After this, the Executive Yuan approved a plan to revitalize Taipei Railway Workshop and transform it into a “National Railway Museum and Park,” which upon completion will make the workshop Asia’s largest railway museum.
The Jan. 27 showcase at Taipei Railway Workshop comes on the heels of yesterday’s performance for visually impaired students from the Taipei School for the Visually Impaired and from elementary and junior high schools in Yilan County. It is the third performance held by the Ministry of Culture to promote the upcoming national railway museum.