Senegalese drummers to express rhythms of West African life

October 10, 2003

University Park, Pa. -- The charismatic Doudou N'Diaye Rose is a drumming legend in Senegal and beyond. Drummers of West Africa, the group he guides, is not only the principal percussion group in Senegal but one of the most respected drum ensembles on the planet. Penn State's Center for the Performing Arts presents Rose and his Drummers of West Africa at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28, in Eisenhower Auditorium on the University Park campus.

Rose -- composer and collaborator with superstars such as the Rolling Stones and Peter Gabriel -- has a passion for harmonies and delights in his ensemble reverberating like a rhythmical machine. The 35 male and female performers -- each a member of Rose's family -- enlist a host of rhythms to paint a mural of West African life through drumming, dancing and singing.

Tickets, which are on sale now, are $26 for a general audience member; $14 for a full-time Penn State student; and $19 for persons 18 and younger. For tickets or information, phone (814) 863-0255 or 800-ARTS-TIX. Most major credit cards are accepted. Tickets also are available at the three arts ticket center locations: Eisenhower Auditorium, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays; and Penn State Tickets Downtown (in the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center, 146. S. Allen St., State College), 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Rose and his drummers -- based in Dakar, Senegal's capital city -- have toured the capitals of Europe and the Americas. Kodo, the famous Japanese drum ensemble, has hosted them in a series of performances and seminars on percussion music. In 1997, the ensemble was the opening act at the 50th annual Cannes Film Festival in France. Four years ago, in its first tour of the United States, the ensemble knocked the socks off audiences and critics alike.

"[Rose] moved with a grace and style that belied his [mid-70s] age," a Chicago Sun-Times critic wrote of the Windy City stop on that 1999-2000 tour. "A veritable one-man frenzy, he whirled, shimmied and ran in place, as if trying to physically impel his thirty-five-member troupe to even greater heights ....The rhythmic complexity and essence that captivated groups from the Rolling Stones to Japan's Kodo troupe was laid bare to an audience whose reactions seemed to range from thrilled to stunned."

In the custom of West Africa's griots (GREE-ohs) -- historians, musicians and royal counselors -- Rose has spent a lifetime speaking with the great poet-musicians of his region and researching the many rhythms that inform the life and ceremonies of Senegalese society. More than a musician and a conductor, Rose the composer weaves innumerable rhythmic phrases in complex, layered patterns to creates percussion symphonies.

Outlook Pointe at State College sponsors the performance. Radio station QWK Rock 97 is the media sponsor. For more information, visit

Last Updated March 20, 2009