Student drum concert is a cultural hit

Autumn Simon
Staff Writer

Morgan Auditorium was filled with celebration and appreciation for West Africa during the West African Drumming classes’ performance on Wednesday.

“I thought we did really well,” said music department manager Steven Biondo, who teaches the class.

“We met once a week every Wednesday, which is about 12 or 13 times to rehearse for this recital, so I thought in that amount of the time all three of my classes did great,” Biondo said.

The audience gathered in the Morgan Auditorium to a projector displaying a video of life in West Africa.

The video showed West Africans performing traditional music by playing the drums and dancing.

The natives honored many things including faith, harvest, the coming of age and more by playing the drums.

“We’re not going to cut the throat of our culture, we’re going to keep it alive,” one of the West African natives from the video said.

“I feel that the performance was culturally breathtaking. The video in the beginning gave life to the African drumming,” freshman speech communication major Blasina De-Hernandez said.

The video ended and the first group of students performed traditional numbers called “dibon,” “kakilambe,” “bao,” “kontemuru,” “kuku” and “bariti.”

These numbers were sung for specific occasions in West Africa, especially for difficult situations.

“I loved how they would sing and play the drums to make their situations better, it reminded me of stories I would here about slavery,” she said.

“When the slaves were going through hardships they would sing songs to uplift their spirits,” De-Hernandez said.

The “bariti,” which is a celebration number, was performed with three dancers and choreographed by senior music major Emmanuel Lagumbay.

The second class then performed “kono,” “toro,” “alou kassa” and “diansa.”

“Toro” is performed for the coming of age. “Alou Kassa” is the farming rhythm that is played during harvest to encourage the farmers. “Diansa” is a dance rhythm.

The third and final class performed “djole,” “jata,” and “kassa.” Like many of the previous rhythms “djole” and “kassa” is another rhythm for the harvest and farmers celebration.

Each group performed on the traditional drums called the djembe and dunun, which are both skin-covered drums.

“I felt it was very inspirational because so many different cultures came together to put on a great performance and you can tell that they really had a great time while performing,” freshman biology major D’nae Lewis said.

The students who performed have studied the methods, culture and history of West African drumming during the semester.

“I learned that there is always something to learn in music,” freshman psychology major and performer Justin Manson said.

“Music is a wide topic and it is so much to cover. We never truly know everything about music especially those from different cultures,” he said.

Autumn Simon can be reached at

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