Friday, June 10, 2011

Doudou Ndiaye Rose drums at Fes Festival

Doudou Ndiaye Rose

It was a strange mixture at this afternoon's concert at the Batha Museum: the up-tempo, powerful beat of Senegalese Doudou Ndiaye Rose's sabar drums along with the St Joseph of the Medina Chorale, also from Dakar. This group was weak, often off-key and sounded like a Sunday-school choir. However, the audience warmed to them, loved the drumming, and enjoyed the concert.

Rose has performed at the Fes Festival before, is well-known as the composer of the Senegalese national anthem and is part of the cultural history of the country. He was declared a 'living treasure' by Unesco in 2000. The drums are conical and of different sizes, although they also use the ndeer, the solo drum. They play a mixture of new rhythms (ba'kk bu bees) and ancient ones (ba'kku cosaan).

Rose and his ensemble are, of course, Muslim, and the choir Roman Catholic, so the concert was an encounter between the two communities, Serer and Wolof. But the promised 'animated soul of Africa' was only half-realised here. There are many great African choirs and sadly, this was not one of them.

St Joseph of the Medina Chorale

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