Hong Kong’s piano man modifications his tune to protest anthem


HONG KONG (Information) – When authorities employees started to clear up a avenue again in June, after one among Hong Kong’s largest and most violent protests in many years, Kevin Cheung rushed to salvage 36 umbrellas from the particles.

Kevin Cheung, an upcycling product designer, holds a “Glory to Hong Kong” thumb piano that he made utilizing the ribs of umbrellas left over from protests this summer season, in Hong Kong, China November 20, 2019. Information/Sarah Wu

“I may really feel the violence that occurred to the umbrellas and to the folks holding them,” mentioned Cheung, a 32-year-old designer who fashions merchandise out of discarded supplies, recalling the aftermath of the protest on Harcourt Highway.

“What sort of waste comes out of town connects actually intently to what’s taking place in it.”

5 years in the past, recycling stations arrange through the “Occupy” or “Umbrella” protests, which paralyzed elements of Hong Kong for 79 days, impressed Cheung to present new life to mangled umbrellas left over from protests.

Umbrellas turned essentially the most seen image of the “Occupy” pro-democracy protests in 2014, when activists used them to fend off tear gasoline and pepper spray, they usually stay an important, and evocative, piece of package for the anti-government motion at this time.

For Cheung, the ribs of umbrellas turned materials for thumb pianos – musical devices performed by plucking tuned steel tines hooked up to a small wood board – that he first made in 2015.

On Sept. 28, the fifth anniversary of the “Umbrella Motion”, Cheung launched a brand new model of the nine-tone thumb piano that performs “Glory to Hong Kong”, a tune that has grow to be the unofficial anthem of the protest motion.

Cheung’s thumb pianos belong to an ever-growing assortment of artwork that attracts inspiration from, or contributes to, the motion as Hong Kong folks discover artistic methods to precise their issues and aspirations. 

Sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition invoice, the protests have developed into requires higher democracy and an inquiry into what many say is extreme use of power by police.

Cheung donated the proceeds from 45 thumb pianos, which bought for about HK$250 a chunk, to boost greater than $10,000 for 2 organizations that assist protesters with authorized assist or medical care.

The orders got here from addresses throughout the territory, together with the headquarters of a financial institution, which Cheung declined to establish, and a police dormitory.

“We’re asking for a similar factor – common suffrage,” Cheung mentioned, evaluating the most recent protests to these in 2014. “The spirit is usually the identical, however the mindset of how determined persons are may be very totally different.”


One other marked distinction, Cheung notes, is the evolution of protesters’ gear.

“5 years in the past, it was simply an umbrella. Now it’s helmets, gasoline masks, even shields,” he mentioned.

Cheung mentioned folks used to hunt perfection within the crafting of his handmade devices.

However within the “Glory to Hong Kong” model, “persons are searching for imperfections”, for proof of the tumultuous origin of the fabric, he mentioned as he touched the peeling pores and skin of a steel rib.

The situation of the umbrellas, which Cheung and volunteers accumulate after more and more violent protests, displays the rising violence.

“As time goes by, the damaged umbrellas have grow to be extra damaged as a result of the violence has escalated,” he mentioned, opening a scorched blue umbrella that reeked of tear gasoline.

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“It turns into more durable to seek out umbrellas intact.”

A secondary faculty instructor not too long ago requested Cheung to guide a workshop along with his college students to allow them to make their very own thumb pianos and play the tune that unifies crowds at rallies.

“Their spirits are occupied by the motion,” Cheung mentioned. “He’s fearful about how they are going to cope in going again to regular life – if there’s something we are able to name regular.”

Reporting By Sarah Wu; Enhancing by Anne Marie Roantree and Robert Birsel