Open your mind to international music

Erik Urycki

A member from the African Music & Cultures Class performs a piece. PHOTO BY Daniel Owen

Credit: DKS Editors

The 17-member group, led by Dr. Kazadi wa Mukuna, performed at the Carl F. W. Ludwig Recital Hall in its third performance of the semester.

The evening started with the ensemble entering the hall singing an African piece titled “Kamalondo/ Mwa Poleni.”

After finishing the piece, Mukuna addressed an audience of more than 100 people, saying the night’s performance was an event, and everyone in the recital hall should sing.

“I’ll call – I’m the boss,” Mukuna said. “I’ll call, you respond.” The audience, made up of mostly students, agreed.

The ensemble performed world music from Africa, Taiwan, India, Puerto Rico and Latin America.

The group used instruments ranging from the Toke – a hand symbol-type instrument, to the Guiro – a percussion instrument that resembles a loaf of bread.

Nick De Cesare, an ethnomusicology graduate student who also performed a clarinet solo during the recital, said “Adowa,” a piece from Ghana, was his favorite.

“Dr. K (Mukuna) describes it as very majestic,” De Cesare said. “I like the way the different tambours and rhythms work with each other.”

De Cesare said the group has been working hard for their performance.

“We’ve pretty much been preparing for this show the whole semester,” De Cesare said.

“We practice once a week for about two or three hours, and we’ve been playing this music since the first week.”

The group was dressed in west African outfits that had to be shipped directly from Ghana.

“Dr. K said that these outfits are worth more than our lives,” De Cesare said smiling.

The ensemble also performed “Kombe Kombe,” a piece from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The piece began with a call and response between Mukuna and the ensemble, followed by the wood block. After more call and response, the hand drums were introduced, adding a syncopated beat to the mix.

The piece was polyrhythmic and featured the slit drum – also known as the log drum.

“It’s like cat and mouse,” said Dennis Cole, an ethnomusicology student working on his dissertation. “That’s pretty much how all African drumming is. ‘Kombe Kombe’ is a warrior song.”

Leah Davis, senior art education major, said she came to see her professor, Noraliz Ruiz Caraballo, perform.

“I was very impressed because that’s not her main instrument,” Davis said. “That was phenomenal.”

Last night’s performance was the ensemble’s last on-campus performance of the semester.

Contact on-campus entertainment reporter Eric Urycki at [email protected].