Adrian’s Journey to Handpan

It’s New Zealand Music Month and this year’s focus is “Discovering New Music”. Here at The PumpHouse we are offering a unique and rare opportunity to see the Handpan played live professionally.

World renowned, Australian based drummer and percussionist Adrian J. Portia is bringing his stunning Handpan music to New Zealand for the first time.

What is a Handpan?
Based on the “Hang Drum”, the handpan is a steel hand drum that has a distinct UFO shape. The angelic and powerful sounds this instrument makes are truly out of this world and Adrian know full well how to deliver these sounds to his audience.

Adrian’s Journey

The first time Adrian J Portia laid eyes on a hang/handpan was in an online video in 2008. He fell in love with it immediately. The instrument was less than a decade old then. It was a bit like an inverted steel pan, except instead of mallets it was played with a person’s bare hands.

Unfortunately for Adrian, a professional drummer and percussionist who grew up outside Melbourne, Australia, getting one would take more than his check book. The handpan –– or as it was called at the time, the hang –– was made from steel and hand-tuned with a hammer. Creating one was an intricate, time-consuming process, and the chances of owning one himself were slim. The only way was to write a handwritten letter to the Swiss couple, who were then the only makers of the instrument. If they accepted you would fly over to Switzerland, pay for it and come home.

Finally in 2013 Adrian managed to purchase a handpan from a new maker based in California.

Over the last few years, he has become internationally renowned for his versatility, speed, control and command over the instrument. With his unique percussive style, performing grooves and melodies at the same time, he has helped pave a new approach and style for the future players of the instrument. Each of his videos shows a close-up on the instrument, with his hands skipping across the surface like pebbles on water.

Adrian released his debut album Life In Colour in August 2015, which was widely received for its diversity, bringing the instrument into a mix of genres, displaying the possibilities of the instrument in different musical settings.

“We’re making the history of this instrument right now,” says Adrian. “It’s quite a magical instrument.”


Adrian will be performing at The PumpHouse Theatre on Mon 21st May at 7:30pm. Book Tickets.

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