Master Drummer of Ghana Joins TTU Ensemble for Nashville, Cookeville Concerts

Sign up for an elective music course at Tennessee Technological University, and you just might find yourself performing at an international convention alongside a master of the craft.

Tennessee Tech students who take Joseph Rasmussen's West African drumming and dance class are required to perform -- either as drummers or dancers -- as part of Abusua, Tennessee Technological University's West African drumming and dance ensemble. Occasionally, Rasmussen's own West African mentors in the discipline join the ensemble as guests. Ghanaian master drummer Godwin Agbeli becomes an honorary member of Abusua for two performances -- one at the International Percussion Arts Society Convention in Nashville.

As part of the convention, Abusua performs a free, public drumming and dance concert at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, in the lobby of the Nashville Convention Center. Agbeli also joins the group for an additional concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, on the Tennessee Tech campus.

About 5,000 percussion performers, teachers, students and manufacturing and publishing industry representatives will attend the three-day convention. Abusua will present the only public concert of African drumming at the meeting.

Agbeli has been a performer, teacher and director throughout his career. He performed with the Arts Council of Ghana's National Folkloric Company throughout the 1960s and currently directs his own troupe, the Sankofa Dance Theater. He is currently a visiting artist at the University of Florida and has taught in New York and Boston. Agbeli's teachings are featured in Kpegisu: A War Drum of the Ewe, by David Locke.

Abusua is made up of Tennessee Tech students from all disciplines under the direction of Rasmussen, associate professor of music. In its five-year history, the group has performed at schools and festivals throughout the Upper Cumberland. Abusua has also been the feature ensemble at the Tennessee Music Educators Association and at the Music Educators National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

For more information about both concerts, call the Department of Music and Art at 372-3161.