The Gong Strikes One was founded in 2012 by Chan Chi-kong and Lee King-chi. The former graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, majored in Chinese Opera. The latter is a Chinese zither performer and expert of the early Cantonese music and music publishing culture. Lee is the current producer of The Gong Strikes One.
The Gong Strikes One specializes in Chinese opera and explores different performance settings of the genre, ranging from concerts, narrative singing, to theater. They showcase vocal and instrumental excerpts taken from Chinese Opera works while preserving the flavor of drama. Narrative singing is the group’s favorite form of performance, especially in their original naamyam works. Since 2015, they have been working on re-arranging the classic Chinese Opera The Purple Hairpin into a narrative singing setting together with the form of bangzi and erhuang. They gave a trial performance in 2015 and 2017, co-organized by the Central & Western District Council and the Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage. In 2017, they presented their first theatrical work, I, Wu Song — A One-Man Chinese Opera at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
The name of the group carries profound meanings. “Cai” is the notation of the traditional Chinese Gong and Drum Sutra and the abbreviation of the word “Chui”. The Gong Strikes One contains not only the instruments they used but also the meaning of “beating the gong and drum for ten days”, that is, to perform for ten consecutive days.
They are also known for composing site-specific naamyam works for various events in recent years, such as the Hong Kong Flower Show (2018) and Muse Fest HK (2018), Tai Kwun’s commissioned film Prison Architect (2018; Directed by Cao Fei). The group also gives talks with live demonstrations to the public on Chinese operatic music. Their recent activities include a talk on the history of Cantonese musical instruments presented by The Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage and 101 Dialogue on Nanyin presented by the West Kowloon Cultural District.
At the International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong this year, percussionist Lung Lok-yun will also join the two core members of The Gong Strikes One. They will give a transborder performance together with the music director and experimental musician Li Chin Sung.