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Release: April 19, 2002

Percussion and jazz students will present ‘World Percussion Concert’ May 3

The percussion and jazz areas of the University of Iowa School of Music will join forces to present “The World Percussion Concert,” featuring music from Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad and Brazil, as well as Latin jazz and salsa from North America, at 8 p.m. Friday, May 3 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert will be free and open to the public.

A celebration and exploration of rhythms from around the world, the concert will feature two steel pan ensembles from the School of Music, directed by Dan Moore; the Afro-Cuban Drum Ensemble and Latin Jazz Ensemble directed by James Dreier; and several guest musicians and dancers.

The concert will open with performances by the Bat Trio, with local musicians Justin Feinstein, Paul Cunliffe and James Dreier playing Afro/Cuban based bat drums. Feinstein will also perform as a guest with the Afro-Cuban Drum Ensemble.

In addition to the performances by the larger ensembles, Jean Montes, a graduate student in orchestral conducting at the UI who is from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, will join with UI percussion students to perform Haitian Rara music. The concert will conclude with “Conga de comparsa,” one of the traditional Afro-Cuban dances of the Carnival season, performed by all participants in the program.

Latin dances will be performed during the program by Modei Akyea, Juan Santiago and Nicole Luchauer, and members of the UI Latin Dance Club.

Bat drums are associated with orisha worship, a religious practice derived from the Yoruba people of Africa. Yorubas brought their religion to Cuba, and it has since spread to Miami and other cities in the United States. Percussion is a crucial component of the religion, in that it is the vehicle through which devotees communicate with the deities, known as orishas. For the most important religious ceremonies an ensemble of three double-headed bat drums is employed.

Rara is a Haitian festival that takes place during the Carnival season. A complex mix of Voodoo and Christian elements, rara is an event of great importance in the ritual calendar of rural Haiti. Rara bands, featuring unusual percussion and wind instruments, are found throughout Haiti. Their performances are exuberant and playful, but also highly competitive between bands. The music has had a strong influence on all forms of Haitian popular dance music.

The steel pans, or steel drums as they are variously known, are actually 55-gallon oil barrels that have been carefully crafted into tuned musical instruments. Originating on the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, these tuned drums have a remarkable timbre that is immediately recognizable as a Caribbean sound. They characteristically play the infectious Calypso, Soca and Reggae music of the West Indies, as well as Afro-Cuban, American pop and other styles -- even including arrangements of classical music.

Starting as a single volunteer group in 1994, the UI steel band has grown to the point that the percussion area of the UI School of Music now maintains two complete steel bands.

Feinstein is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he participated in the World Music program. He is performing and teaching in the Iowa City area while his wife participates in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Cunliffe is the staff percussionist/accompanist for the UI Dance Department. An active musician in the Iowa City area, he plays with the Orquesta de Jazz y Salsa Alto Maiz and the UI Faculty Jazz Ensemble.

Dreier is an instructor in the UI jazz studies program where he coaches small jazz ensembles and assists with the large format jazz groups. He teaches drumset and world percussion, and is founder and director of the Afro Cuban Drum Ensemble. As a member of the Orquesta de Alto Maiz he has performed throughout the Midwest and in Europe. He has studied percussion and drumming in Brazil and Cuba and has written articles for Percussive Notes.

An internationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore has experience from concert to marching percussion, and from jazz to classical styles. Performing all aspects of percussion, including keyboard percussion, drum set, ethnic and multi-percussion, he is considered a “total percussionist.” For the past 12 years he has toured as a member of the Britain/Moore Duo, whose CD “Cricket City” has been described by Pan-lime Magazine as “a brilliant collage of pan-marimba pieces.”

Moore joined the UI music faculty in 1996. Only the second full-time professor of percussion at the UI, he succeeded Thomas L. Davis, who taught percussion at the UI for more than 35 years. He is a performing artist for the Yamaha Corporation of America, Sabian Ltd., and Innovative Percussion.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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