Artist-in-Residence Brings “Master Drummer” to HA

Thanks to the Stehling Project’s Artist-in-Residence program, Holy Angels School is fortunate this year to be visited by Ghanian “Master Drummer” Sowah Mensah for a one-week African Drumming Residency.  Sowah currently hails from Minnesota where he teaches music at the University of St. Thomas and MacAlester College where he directs a student drum group. 

He spent the last week of February with the students of Holy Angels, arriving on Sunday, February 26th.  The first thing he did was to audition all of the fifth through eighth graders in order to form a select performing group.  These auditions took place bright and early on Monday morning, February 27th. 

The students chosen rehearsed for one hour each day and performed twice during week. The first performance was on Thursday, March 1st, at 6:30pm, in Holy Angels Church.  The concert included the drum group and the Holy Angels Chorus. 

During the week, Sowah Mensah also spent time with the students in grades K5-4.  He shared information about Ghana and the various musical instruments that are part of the culture.  He was able to create a wide variety of musical sounds with the various drums, rattles and shakers, flute and xylophone.  One unique drum was played using his feet!  Sowah taught the students a few songs from his homeland.

The final performance of the select drum group was on Friday, March 2nd, at 10:30am in the  school gym.  This concert was for the entire student body and included the HA Chorus in performing Sii, Sii, Sii with the audience joined in singing the chorus. 

Mensah emphasized how important it was to focus the goals of the group and to maintain concentration in order to succeed.  The select drum group certain learned their lesson well as it received standing ovations at each of the performances. 

This year’s Artist-in-Residence program was coordinated by music teacher Jennifer Komassa.

Click here to link to the artist’s website.

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