North Greenville University enjoyed an evening of percussion and brass music on Monday, November 4. Special Guest Artist, Bolokada Conde, a native of Guinea, West Africa and Master Djembefola (master drummer) was the highlight of the concert.
The percussion ensemble under the direction of Dr. Christopher Davis and the brass quintet and euphonium quartet under the direction of Dr. Darian Washington performed pieces from classical to sacred genres.
Bolokada Conde was the guest artist for the final piece of the concert. He performed Balakulanyan with the newly-formed NGU African Percussion Ensemble.
“I have been a part of several African Percussion groups through the years and I feel that it is a freeing experience. The way that African music is taught, learned, and performed is so different than that of the Western musical traditions and it gives students a glimpse into how most of the world learns music,” said Dr. Davis, NGU Director of Percussion/Athletic Bands, about forming the African percussion ensemble. “Rhythm is the most vital aspect to music in Africa and I feel that it is something that percussionists, especially, should be exposed to in school. I believe that this ensemble will continue to grow and eventually be able to represent North Greenville in the community.”
According to BolokadaConde.blogspot.com, he is a true Master Djembola, expert of Malinke Rhythms and one of the world’s best djembe players. Bolokada was a young musical prodigy who became a sensation in the Sankaran region of Guinea, West Africa. As a master folklorist, he became the premier djembe player in all the major village celebrations in the region for many years. Bolokada joined the world famous Les Percussion du Guinee to replace the legendary Momoudy Keita as their lead drummer. He traveled and performed in major performance venues all over the world since 1996 and was featured in the IMAX movie PULSE: a Stomp Odyssey.
Since 2004, he has been performing and teaching in the United States. He is the musical director and lead soloist for the Ballet Waraba in North Carolina, Ballet Wassa-Wassa in Santa Cruz, California and Les Percussion Malinke in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has conducted percussion workshop all over the US and Europe. He has released two musical CD’s Morowaya and Sankaran and the subject of an upcoming documentary “Bolokada Conde-Malinke Village Djembefola.”
Mamady Keita, the best known djembe player in the world, calls Bolokada “A brilliant and entertaining performer, a patient and precise teacher, and as one of the few masters of his instrument. Few others are able to captivate his audience as he does; an even fewer are able to clearly and concisely teach this music.”
Bolo was awarded immigrant status as an alien with extraordinary ability in the arts in 2007.
Since Bolo lives in the area, Davis plans to have him back to work with the new ensemble and use him to teach African drumming.
“Whenever possible, I plan to have Bolo back to NGU to work with the African Percussion Ensemble. He is a very sought-after artist, so we will have to find the times that he is in the area. I would love to get him here next year for his own concert,” said Davis. “Starting in the fall of 2014, the music department is adding a world music lab to our curriculum that I will be teaching. When I reach the African unit and begin to teach African drumming, I plan on having Bolo up to the school to speak about the tradition and history of his culture. I can’t see passing up the opportunity to utilize such a great teacher when he lives so close.”
Captivate his audience is what Bolo did at North Greenville University on Monday evening.
Photo: Bolo Conde, master drummer from Guinea, West Africa, performs with newly formed NGU African Percussion Ensemble Monday evening.