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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 3, 2003

Drummers Of West Africa Bring Virtuosic Tradition To UI

The Drummers of West Africa, directed by Doudou N'Diaye Rose, will bring the virtuosic percussion tradition of Senegal to the University of Iowa for a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19 in Hancher Auditorium.

Senegal is the home of one of the world's most complex, passionate and technically spectacular drumming traditions. Rose, who a Le Figaro review described as "the greatest drummer in the world," not only leads the Drummers of West Africa, but has also collaborated with jazz and rock artists including the Rolling Stones, Miles Davis and Peter Gabriel.

The ensemble -- all 35 of them are members of Rose's family -- is a guardian of ancient African drumming traditions, but it is also at the forefront of a living tradition. Rose, a professor at the National Institute of Arts in Dakar, is an innovator who experiments with new percussion technique and creates new compositions for the ensemble.

A Chicago Tribune review described the result as "a marvel of military precision and Herculean stamina."

As the cultural ambassador of Senegal, the Drummers of West Africa have performed throughout the world, including opening the 50th Cannes Film Festival.

Rose became a drummer in defiance of his father, a Senegalese accountant. At the age of nine he went in search of a teacher, and found a mentor in El hadj Mada Seck, the most renowned drummer in Dakar.

When Senegal became independent in 1960, Rose joined the Senegalese National Ballet, which brought him to the attention of international audiences and launched him to stardom.

Rose mastered not only the sabar "talking drum" style of Senegal but also a variety of percussion styles of other cultures on Africa's west coast. The sabar is a narrow, vertical drum with a goatskin head that is struck with either the bare hands or a thin drumstick to produce a surprising variety of timbres and tones.

Based on the sabar tradition, Rose has invented more than 500 new rhythms and has designed new versions of the traditional instruments. And adopting the role of the conductor, he directs thundering, complex symphonies of drums.

Nancy Droll is the local sponsor of the Oct. 19 performance, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for the Drummers of West Africa are $35, $31 and $28 ($28 and $12 for UI students: $28, $24.80 and $22.40 for senior citizens; and half price for audience members 17 and younger).

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: .

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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