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SUNY Potsdam’s West African Drum and Dance Ensemble Takes the Stage at Snell Theater on Saturday, Nov. 23

November 19, 2019

Music and dance from Ghana featured during Performance at Snell Theater

SUNY Potsdam is proud to present music performed by The Crane School of Music’s West African Drum and Dance Ensemble on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sara M. Snell Music Theater. The concert will include traditional musical works from the Ewe, Ga, and Akan peoples who reside in West Africa. The performance includes music from four genres of West African music.

To start the show, the ensemble will be reciting a poem by the Akan people from southern Ghana with talking drum accompaniment. Gahu dance-drumming will follow, providing a glimpse into the Benin form of dance that was adopted by Ewe communities in Togo and Ghana. The group will perform “Pete Pete,” one of the most popular Akan children’s songs, followed by Kpegisu, a type of Ewe war dance and drumming, which is often reserved for special events such as annual harvest festivals, regional and national arts festivals, or the installation of a chief.  The final piece is Kpanlogo, a Ghanaian music genre that is typically played at funerals, festivals, and parties.

The Crane West African Ensemble will be joined by guest master drummer Martin Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng, an expert Ghanaian musician who brings a high level of musical mastery and rhythmic virtuosity to any performance.  The event will be lively and upbeat, with opportunities for the audience to participate and dance with the group at the end.  This is a great event for people of all ages, including families with young children.

This concert is free, and the public is invited to attend.

About the performers:

The Crane West African Drum and Dance Ensemble performs music from Ghana, Togo and neighboring countries of West Africa.  The ensemble strives to perform and represent West African traditional music in the most accurate way possible.  Students learn the material through an oral method, rather than through written notation or scores.  The group is an inclusive community open to all students at SUNY Potsdam regardless of musical background or ability. The students in the group reflect a diversity of backgrounds and majors. The ensemble includes Justice Akwei, Rainar Anderson, Victoria Awogbemi, Isabelle Bailey, Zachary Castro, Melissa Dolese, Kenny Doubouyou, Paul Dougall, Darius Fuller, Molly Guarton, Anise Hetman, Jacob Hetman, Joseph Janover, Katya Lyubomirsky, Alanna Pinard-Brace, Rishi Ramsingh, Andrew Richardson and Clayton Williams. Additional guest performers include Nana Abena Baffour Akoto, Tokunbo Allen Bakare, Fauzia Ghatta, Brandon Griffin and Peter McCoy.

Martin Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng is the featured guest artist. Obeng has worked with the ensemble since its start in Spring 2013.  He is a renowned drummer, composer, dancer, and educator originally from Ghana who has worked internationally for the past 30 years.  He began drumming at the age of five, and by 17 he was appointed Royal Court Drummer to the high chief of the Aburi-Akuapim region of the Eastern Region of Ghana.  He was a member of Ghana's National Arts Council Folkloric Company.  He has continued to perform traditional music of West Africa, in addition to highlife, jazz, Latin music, reggae, and different fusions of these styles.  Obeng teaches at Brown University, and has shared the stage with such luminaries as Max Roach, Roy Hargrove, Randy Weston, Anthony Braxton, Gideon Alorwoyie, and Obo Addy.  His most recent recording titled “Africa’s Moving Forward, is available online at  To hear more of his music, and read about his work, please visit his website at  www.kwakukwaakyeobeng.organd follow him on Facebook at

For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, please visit

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution. For more information, please visit

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