The sounds of djembes, ashikos and one marimba will spill through the halls of the University Center for the Arts as the CSU West African Drum and Dance Ensemble will put the native instruments on display tonight.
The ensemble, directed by junior music major Staci Tomaszewski, will take the Griffin Concert Hall stage at 7:30 p.m. and will perform a wide range of traditional grooves primarily from Ghana and Senegal.
The concert consists of three segments, focusing on the ensemble but also featuring two traditional Mexican marimba pieces and a performance of John Cage’s Living Room Music, a quartet that uses ordinary living room items as percussion instruments.
“The whole African way of doing this kind of music is it’s a party to them. They get out, they get their drums, they dance around the fire and they go for hours,” said Tomaszewski.
Similar passion shows through the lively animation of the 23 ensemble members throughout the show. The members will wear traditional African attire and will perform traditional dances.
The drum and dance segments, sometimes lasting upward of 10 minutes, display high-energy movement and repetition.
“Not a lot of people are used to watching African music, and the fact that it’s the same thing over and over doesn’t matter because there’s so much energy,” Tomaszewski said.
A middle school percussion and youth orchestra teacher, Tomaszewski will make her CSU directing debut during the concert. She said she has studied alongside native West Africans to learn the rhythms featured in the concert.
The West African Drum and Dance Ensemble is a class offered in the music department, which was traditionally open to music majors. This semester, however, non-music majors were allowed to enroll.
Juli Williams, a senior Spanish and international studies major, became involved in the ensemble because a friend told her that there were spots still open in the class.
Williams, who had no prior experience with percussion instruments, has learned to play both the djembe and ashiko drums.
“It’s really challenging at first when you are learning the patterns, but (it’s) really fun. It’s something really different,” Williams said.
Staff writer Nic Turiciano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.