Music and culture of Ghana: A hands-on experience

| 30 Sep 2011 | 08:23

Port Jervis — In the West African village where master drummer Maxwell Kofi Donkor grew up, everyone is a musician. Traditional Asante music celebrates daily life, marriage, initiation, the birth of a baby, the first sprouts of corn, the harvest, the welcoming of guests, even death. Donkor will lead two free workshops and a concert in Port Jervis where everyone, no matter their musical background, will play together in much the same way. Participants will learn basic traditional hand-drumming techniques and two Ghanaian rhythms, along with their cultural history. The songs and rhythms are indigenous, passed on from generation to generation in an unwritten form. Donkor did not study them. He grew up with them and they have become part of him. Donkor first learned the skills essential to a drummer at his grandfather’s knee in his native Otumi, located in Ghana. As a teenager Donkor was commissioned, like many Ghanaian youths, to carry on the traditions of his ancestors. He has performed with the Folklore Ensemble of Ghana, and with such nationally known drummers as Babatunde Olatunji and his Drums of Passion, Mickey Hart, Sikiru, and Camara. He is also the artistic director of Kofi and Sankofa Drum & Dance Ensemble, resident in Middletown. Kathy Brink of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Port Jervis will be assisting at the workshops, which are open to children and adults age 12 and older. This project is made possible, in part, with funds from Orange County Tourism and the County of Orange. Register by e-mailing or calling 914-213-9789. For more information, visit Starting on Aug. 18, Donkor will hold drum and dance classes at Studio Ayo at the Caldor Plaza on Route 211 in Middletown. Classes will be held Wednesdays from 8 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 2 to 4 p.m. He will hold a drum-making camp workshop on Sept. 10 at the Pocono Environmental Center. For more information visit

Wednesday, Aug. 11:
6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.
Port Jervis Youth Center, 134 Pike St., Port Jervis
Thursday, Aug. 19 — workshop: 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church, 60 Sussex St. Port Jervis
Concert/sharing time:
Thursday, Aug. 19 — 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church, 60 Sussex St. Port Jervis