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A shared 'Heartbeat'



A group of 12- and 13-year-old south Bethlehem students from Broughal Middle School and Holy Infancy School, as well as students from Lehigh—all with zero musical background—will share the stage with Different Drums of Ireland.

“I heard a wise woman say the drum is the heartbeat of our nations. Listen to our heartbeat.” This introductory line sets the tone of a unique percussion piece that has brought together a Northern Ireland band with south Bethlehem students—including a few of Lehigh’s own.

The piece, entitled Heartbeat, will be featured in the final performance by Different Drums of Ireland as they cap off their semester-long stint as Lehigh’s artists-in-residence. The band, which has played for Irish and American presidents, uses indigenous drums of Ireland to celebrate cultural diversity and linkages.

Different Drums of Ireland has been working with a group of 12- and 13-year-old south Bethlehem students from Broughal Middle School and Holy Infancy School, as well as students from Lehigh—all with zero musical background—to teach them the piece. The band will be accompanied by these newfound local fans on Thursday, January 22 at 7 p.m. at Zoellner Arts Center’s Baker Theater.

“Each artist-in-residence offers students opportunities to learn more about an artist's creative process; whether they are part of arts department research, or a guest artist at Zoellner,” says Silagh White, administrative director of ArtsLehigh, which brought Different Drums to Lehigh. “The Different Drums of Ireland residency offered that, and an opportunity for students to understand their use of music in community development by doing it themselves.”

Regular practices, including lessons on the djembe drum, have prepared the students for Thursday’s performance. The children have also been assisted by local drum circle leader Moe Jerant. Additionally, the Holy Infancy Children’s Choir will also sing “What Was This Place Like Before I Was Born?” from band member Roy Arbuckle’s album Songs of the Fountain.

“I’m excited to play the drums, but I was interested in helping form a connection between Lehigh and the community,” says Jake Kennan ’12, who will be participating in Heartbeat, along with three other Lehigh students. “This is a small way to form that bond.”

Kofi Appiah-Nkansah ’09 agrees. He was attracted to the project after working closely with Broughal students through a homework club. “I enjoyed getting to meet the kids, and this is the perfect opportunity to mentor kids and influence them indirectly,” he says.

Different Drums of Ireland’s final performance is the culmination of various concerts, events and outreach by the band throughout the fall semester. The group met with various Lehigh classes to discuss everything from culture, to community, to bridging the divide in Northern Ireland. They also appeared throughout the Lehigh Valley at Celtic Classic, Godfrey Daniels, and Braveheart Pub and on WDIY.

Concert tickets are $10 general public/$5 student, faculty, staff and seniors. For tickets, call Zoellner Arts Center at 610-758-1787 or visit www.zoellnerartscenter.org.

--Tricia Long


Posted on Wednesday, January 21, 2009

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