Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 2, 2012

Spirit of Africa at Opera House


TRAVERSE CITY — The Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi channel the pulsating rhythmic energy and creative spirit of Africa on the City Opera House stage, Monday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m.

One of the best-known percussion ensembles in the world, the Drummers have passed their traditions and techniques to each generation for centuries.

In Burundi, drums are sacred and represent the powers of fertility and regeneration. The large drums, "Ingoma," are made from hollowed tree trunks covered with skin. The "Amashako" drums provide a continuous beat, and the "Ibishikiso" drums follow the rhythm of the central "Inkiranya" drum.

Since the 1960s, the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi have toured around the world, becoming a popular attraction at concert halls and festivals. Their massed drum sound, or "Burundi beat," also caught the ear of Western musicians. They appeared on Joni Mitchell's "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" in 1975. Their sound also influenced British rock bands of the early 1980s.

The drummers inspired Thomas Brooman to organize the first World of Music, Arts and Dance festival in 1982. The Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi were recorded at Real World Studios in 1993 and released a live album on the Real World Label. Other recordings followed, including "The Master Drummers of Burundi" in 1994 and "The Drummers of Burundi" in 1999.

Tickets are $20 and $35, available from the box office, by calling 941-8082 or at