MIT Stages 2nd Biennial Griot Festival:
Celebrating the music, drumming and dance of Africa's culture bearers
February 25 - 27, 2011
Rambax, the Senegalese drumming ensemble at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hosts a weekend of events celebrating the musical traditions of griots from Africa and the Diaspora on the weekend of February 25-27. The Festival, held in conjunction with Black History Month, is curated by MIT artist-in-residence Lamine Touré and Prof. Patricia Tang.
Masters of words and music, griots are the hereditary musicians and keepers of oral history who have played an important role in many African cultures for centuries. For this event, Rambax will be joined by the Mbaye Family Drum Troupe, one of Senegal's most renowned families of griot drummers. Specialists in the sabar tradition, the Mbaye Family Drum Troupe is descended from 14th-century griots who accompanied the kings to the front lines of battle, drumming and singing their praises. The Mbaye Family Drum Troupe currently performs in Senegal at weddings, baptisms, sabar dances, political meetings and wrestling matches.
The Troupe is featured in a book by MIT ethnomusicologist Patricia Tang entitled Masters of the Sabar: Wolof Griot Percussionists of Senegal.
"We are delighted to bring back members of the Mbaye Family Drum Troupe again this spring to share their rich musical traditions with MIT and the greater Boston area," says Professor Tang. "This year we are especially excited to have Aziz Seck among the Troupe members, as Seck is a veteran of mbalax, the genre of popular music that has dominated Senegalese airwaves since the early 1970s. Seck is a pioneer, being the first percussionist to introduce sabar into mbalax music. We look forward to Seck sharing his music and experiences with us."
The festival will include drum and dance workshops led by members of the Mbaye Family Drum Troupe (Aziz Seck, Alassane Djigo, Vieux Touré and Mass Mbaye) as well as other African artists currently residing in the US. There will also be a panel discussion with Aziz Seck which will give the public an opportunity to learn about the history and current role of griots throughout West Africa, with a focus on their role in the Senegalese popular music scene.
The festival will culminate in a gala performance of African music, drum and dance featuring the Mbaye Family Drum Troupe, Rambax MIT, and other guest artists including Pape Bâ, Sidi Mohamed "Joh" Camara, Ibrahima "Thiokho" Diagne, Rich Faye, Balla Kouyate, Babacar Ndiaye, Sana Ndiaye, Talla Ngom, Cheikh Ngom, Yeumougor "Paa" Seck, Babacar "Moha" Seck, Demba Sène, Fatoumata Sylla, and Lila Sylla.
All events are open to the public unless otherwise noted. Made possible by MIT's Music and Theater Arts Section, the Council for the Arts, and the School for Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Dean's Office.
Friday, February 25
Drumming with Griots: Sabar drumming workshops with the Mbaye Family Drum Troupe.
1:30-3:00pm (beginner level), 3:00-4:30pm (intermediate level), Rm N52-199 (Endicott World Music Room, 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge). Led by members of the Mbaye Family Drum Troupe. No previous experience required. Space limited; first-come first-serve basis. Free and open to the public.
Learning About History with Griots: A Conversation with Aziz Seck.
4:30-5:30pm Rm N52-199 (Endicott World Music Room, 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge). Conversation with master Senegalese drummer Aziz Seck (Senegal), mbalax pioneer, and the first percussionist to introduce sabar into Senegalese popular music. Moderated by Prof. Patricia Tang. Free and open to the public.
Saturday, February 26
African Dance Workshops at the Dance Complex (open to public)
10:30am-4:30pm African Dance at the Dance Complex, 536 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. $15 per class.
10:30am-12:00pm Sabar Dance w/ Rich Faye
12:00pm-1:30pm Djembé Dance w/ Babacar Ndiaye
1:30pm-3:00pm Sabar Dance w/ Talla Ngom
3:00pm-4:30pm Kutiro Dance w/ Pape Bâ
4:30pm-6:00pm Sabar Dance w/ Paa Seck
GRIOT CELEBRATION: GALA PERFORMANCE of African music, drum and dance performance featuring the Mbaye Family Drum Troupe, Rambax MIT, and other guest artists. Directed by Lamine Touré. 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium (48 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge.) $5 with Student ID; $10 general admission.
TANNIBEER AFTERPARTY at the Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callendar Street, Cambridge.
Sunday, February 27
African Dance Workshop at the Dance Complex (open to public)
12:00pm-1:30pm Sabar Dance Class w/ Demba Sène and other guest artists. Dance Complex, 536 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. $15.
For more information, call (617) 253-2826.
Contact: Clarise Snyder, MIT Concerts Office