Lee Elementary School students drum at Stephens Lake Park

Friday, May 27, 2011 | 8:23 p.m. CDT; updated 5:32 p.m. CDT, Sunday, May 29, 2011
Ibiyinka Alao teaches the crowd a Nigerian song about patience at an African drumming concert hosted by Lee Elementary School at the Stephens Lake Park amphitheater on Friday, May 27.

COLUMBIA – The sun started shining as the intricate rhythm of African drums came to a crescendo.

Lee Elementary School hosted its first African drumming concert Friday at Stephens Lake Park amphitheater. Three hundred students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade, family and friends, teachers and the Arts Ambassador for Nigeria, Ibiyinka Alao were present.


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Performances include “Tunji and the Giant,” an African folk tale with African instruments such as the mbira, drums, bells and rattles.

Tricia Carver-Horner, 10, said her class practiced for about five weeks.

“I was quite nervous because I had a solo,” Tricia said. Tricia played the mbira, a thumb piano, which she learned to play for her performance.

Hallie Rainwater, a visiting dance instructor, worked with the students staging and directing the play.

“I came in after they did all the drumming and music learned,” Rainwater said.

Rainwater said the performers rehearsed once before performing the play on stage for the first time.

“They are very talented and very musical,” Rainwater said. “They are very easy to direct; they really enjoy the whole art aspect.”

After the play, the drummers performed “Cinco de Mayo,” an African drum ensemble composed and written by the fifth grade African Drumming class. The title of the piece was inspired by the low drums bass pattern.

Alao arrived last Wednesday and has been working closely with the students at Lee Elementary since.

“Back at school, every kid in the school painted a painting with him,” Ann Mehr, art specialist at Lee Elementary, said. She said classes were doubled up so that all the students had an opportunity to work with him.

Alao led the final performance. Everyone present was on his or her feet dancing to and singing along with the African drum beats and lyrics of “Mase Kanju Ju Olewa.” Alao said the title of the song means “Do not hurry more than God.”

“The relationship between visual arts and music is that art is a form of frozen music,” Alao said.  

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