Ensemble plays to the beat of a different drum


Drum beats echoed off the walls of a classroom in Ferguson Hall. Energy filled the room while the performers concentrated on their rhythms.

The African Music Ensemble performed Wednesday on campus. The performance was originally supposed to take place outside but was moved inside because of cold weather.

The ensemble is a University class called Percussion Ensemble (MUS 5490).

Eleven students and an instructor make up the group, which uses African xylophones, African drums and singing.

The group members played traditional African music from Ghana, instructor Sowah Mensah said.

“The music is for different types of occasions,” he said.

The performance began with a welcome song that used the xylophones.

“I like to use a welcome song to welcome you to this sharing,” Mensah said.

The small room held approximately 25 people. Some stood in the hallway to listen to the music.

Carla Merkow, a University student who is one of the ensemble members, said there are different kinds of drumming, xylophones and singing.

“We made music from the very first day we started,” she said. “It’s really fun.”

Merkow said the class meets twice a week and is open to all University students. She said the group is trying to get people involved.

Two-thirds of students who took the class last semester took it again this semester, said Mensah, who also teaches a similar class at Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas.

“Interested students can

just sign up for the class,” he said. “No experience necessary.”

Nate Cook said that he visited the University of Minnesota to support the group.

“I’m in a similar ensemble,” he said. “So I’m coming here to support the larger family.”

Charlie Groth, a University of Minnesota student, came to watch one of his friends in the ensemble.

“It was really cool. I would check it out again,” he said.