Center for the Arts Presents the Royal Drummers of Burundi

Posted: September 14, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Burundi drummers
Royal Drummers of Burundi

Taarab — a traditional acoustic music — is a cultural hybrid, influenced by the sounds of East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Popular today in Tanzania and Kenya, Taarab is many things to many people, but remains essentially an “island” sound.

The Royal Drummers of Burundi showcase this unique art form in two performances of “Mombasa Party” at the Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m.

The Drummers channel history and ritual into the exuberant and enthusiastic performances that have earned them the title of one of the greatest percussion ensembles in the world today. Passing tradition and technique from father to son, theensemble has performed this music for centuries.

The thunderous sound — the large “Ingoma” drums are fashioned from hollowed tree trunks covered with skin, the “Amashako” provide a continuous beat, and “Ibishikiso” follow the rhythm of the central “Inkiranya” drum — combines with graceful and athletic dance.

Since the 1960s, the Drummers of Burundi have toured the world over, impressing musicians of all genres and leading them to engagements outside their realm. For example, they made a guest appearance on Joni Mitchell’s 1975 recording, “The Hissing of Summer Lawns,” and ’80s artists like Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow have credited the Drummers of Burundi with influencing their musical direction. The ensemble also inspired the creation of the first World Music and Dance Festival in 1982, an event credited with sparking the entire world music boom.

Tickets are $40, $32 and $20; tickets for children 12 and under are half-price. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

This performance is sponsored by Verizon Yellow Pages.

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