Performing Arts

Asheville Percussion Festival Celebrates Women

Kasiva Mutua, percussionist. Photo by Mbarathi Karuga

Asheville Rhythm hosts its 7th Annual Asheville Percussion Festival (APF) at the Odyssey Community School (OCS) from Monday, June 25, through July 1. The event, themed Celebrating Women in Rhythm, features local professionals and female percussionists from around the globe performing for the public and teaching classes in their respective specialties and ethnic traditions.

“When I was a young man playing drums, there weren’t many female drumming role models,” says River Guerguerian, founder and creative director of Asheville Rhythm and APF. “I wanted to highlight the new age we are now in.”

The festival begins with a weeklong percussion program taught by visiting musicians for enrolled students, followed by a Masters Concert on Friday, June 29, at 8 p.m. at Diana Wortham Theatre. Free workshops and other activities are open to the public on Saturday, June 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturday evening, a casual concert of solo pieces and improvisational jams will take place at 8 p.m. at OCS.

The weekend culminates in a Sound Meditation at the school on Sunday, July 1, from 12–1:30 p.m., featuring Free Planet Radio, gong master Megan Sprague and other percussionists. Post-festival, there will be all-day doumbek workshops with Raquy Danziger on Monday and Tuesday, July 2 and 3.

“The festival offers a complete immersion into a welcoming and inspiring community of drummers at all levels,” says presenting artist Isabel Castellvi. “Attending the festival is joyful and exuberant and hours of drumming each day offers a space to really journey with rhythm and sound.”

Participating percussionists include celebrated drummer Kasiva Mutua, from Nairobi, Kenya, world-renowned doumbek player Raquy Danziger, from Istanbul, Turkey, and Persian frame drummer Naghmeh Farahmand. Local performers include iconic busker and radio host Abby the Spoon Lady and world-percussionist and djembefola Jesse Lehman.

Odyssey Community School is located at 90 Zillicoa Street, Asheville. For more information or to purchase tickets for festival concerts and events, visit ashevillepercussionfestival.com. Free workshops require advance registration due to space limitations.

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