Drum and dance festival coming to York University

Drum and dance fever is mounting at York. On March 15, the Department of Music presents its annual Drum & Dance Festival – a cross-cultural concert which promises to be a thrilling and exciting spectacle of music.

Right and below: Students from York’s Department of Music performing on the drums. Photos by Greg Van Asperen, Moonscape Multimedia

The roster of players includes the talent-laden student ensembles from York, which has Canada’s oldest and largest university-based world music program. They will be joined by their instructors, respected world music performers Lindy Burgess, Kwasi Dunyo, Ruben Esguerra, Michael Marcuzzi, Colin McGuire, Paul Ormandy, Roger Scannura, Rick Shadrach Lazar and Bassam Shahouk.

A kaleidoscope of world percussion, the Drum & Dance Fest features music from a wide array of countries, played on traditional instruments. Fans can pulsate to the rhythms of Brazilian and Caribbean carnival, funky throb, Afro-Cuban dance, Eastern vibe and spacey techno, all spiced with spontaneous improvisation.

Returning this season are the West African Drums, Middle Eastern Ensemble, Caribbean Ensemble, Escola de Samba, Cuban Ensembles and the Philharmonia de CaeloTactus. New to this year’s team is the Flamenco Ensemble. With no particular batting order, the ensembles will rotate on a 10-minute basis. The dance floor is open to all, inviting fans to move and groove to the vibrant beat, while the home stretch will leave them feeling uplifted and pleasantly exhausted.

The Flamenco Ensemble, directed by one of Canada’s pre-eminent flamenco guitarists, Roger Scannura, will heat up the stage with the music of southern Spain. Bassam Shahouk directs the Middle Eastern Ensemble, which will perform classical and folk music drawn from Persian, Turkish and Arab cultures. 

“Kinetic art” describes the West African Drum Ensemble directed by Kwasi Dunyo. A renowned master drummer, Dunyo has performed worldwide. The Escola de Samba, directed by award-winning Canadian percussionist Rick Shadrach Lazar, is all about Brazilian music: Latin jazz drumming on a samba beat.

The hot Afro-Latin rhythms of the Cuban Ensembles will be directed by Shadrach Lazar, Paul Ormandy, Michael Marcuzzi and Ruben Esguerra. As a freelance trumpeter, Marcuzzi, a professor of music education at York, has performed with artists Cleo Laine, Sid Caesar, The Four Tops, Al Martino, The Drifters and The Temptations and with numerous musicians in Cuba. The engaging Caribbean Ensemble, under the direction of Lindy Burgess, features the steel pan instruments and popular calypsos of the Afro-Caribbean tradition, the group also brings the distinctive rhythms and tonality of steel pan to jazz, pop and classical music.

The Philharmonia de Caelo Tactus, directed by Colin McGuire, is York University’s electro-acoustic dance orchestra. The name means “lovers of harmony touched by heaven” (as in touched by lightning). 

The Drum & Dance Fest takes place Tuesday, March 15, at 7:30pm in McLaughlin Performance Hall and Winters College Dining Hall located at York’s Keele campus. Tickets are only $10, and $5 for students. For more information, contact the Music Department at ext. 55186.