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Nationally renowned world percussion group to perform at Ohio University- Southern

IRONTON, Ohio (Jan. 30, 2007) -- Biakuye, a nationally renowned world percussion group, will perform at Ohio University Southern on Friday, February 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the OU-S Riffe Center’s Main Rotunda. The performance is co-sponsored by the Ironton Council for the Arts/Lawrence County Concert Series and Ohio University Southern.

This dynamic group performs "mellow-rhythmic world percussion", uniting the cool sounds of American jazz vibraphone, drum set, and electric bass with the mellow-rhythmic richness of African marimba, kalimba, and hand drums.

Members of the ensemble are Mark Stone, performing on vibraphone, gyil, and kalimba, from Waterford, Michigan; Titos Sompa, performing on kalimba, ngoma, and voice, from the Congo; Miguel Gutierrez, performing on congas and drum set, from Detroit, Michigan; Issa Sall, performing on bass, bass kalimba, from Dakar, Senegal; and Roger Braun, from Athens, Ohio, performing on a variety of percussion instruments.

Among the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa, Biakuye means "unity". It is the spirit of unity that brings the American and African members of Biakuye together to perform this unique multicultural blend of musical styles and performers. Biakuye offers energetic concert programs, educational presentations, and workshops that engage audiences while providing education on African and American culture.

The group's original compositions and arrangements draw on a wealth of American and African melodic-percussion traditions including the Ghanaian gyil, Ugandan embaire, South African kalimba, Guatemalan marimba, and United States vibraphone.

Mark Stone, an expert performer of global melodic-percussion, formed Biakuye in 1993. During the past thirteen years the group has actively spread its message of unity through performances at numerous festivals, art institutes, universities, and public schools. Highlights include performances at the 2004 Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Day of Music, the 2005 Detroit Festival of the Arts, and the 2006 African Xylophone Festival in New York City.

Mark Stone has an extensive knowledge of African and American musical traditions. He has performed with the foremost percussion groups of Ghana (West Africa), Uganda (East Africa), and Trinidad (West Indies).

In Uganda, he was an honorary member of the Nakibembe xylophone Group for a six-month period, performing at village funerals and weddings. In the United States, Mark is a founding member of the New York- based jazz ensemble Imaginary Homeland. He currently teaches at Oakland University in Detroit where he directs the African Ensemble and Steel Band and teaches music theory..

Titos Sompa is a renowned dancer and musician, noted especially as a master Congolese drummer and kalimba player. In 1972, Mr. Sompa founded the first Congolese dance company (Tanawa dance company) in America. He later joined the New York dance and theater scene with James Earl Jones and such jazz greats as Elvin Jones, Sun Ra, Ron Carter, and Pharaoh Sanders.

Miguel Gutierrez is a virtuoso percussionist. He developed his extensive knowledge of percussion through studies with such master percussionists as Joe Custasis and Art Blakey. Miguel has also performed with a number of jazz greats including Claudio Roditi and Nancy Wilson. He is the owner of Professional Drum and Percussion Studies in Detroit.

Issa Sall is one of the Detroit area's most in demand bass players. He was exposed to many styles of African music while growing up in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, West Africa. He began playing the electric bass after moving to the United States and has developed a unique style shaped by intensive study of virtuoso players from America, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Roger Braun is Associate Professor and Director of Percussion Studies at Ohio University. Braun's performance experience demonstrates great diversity and spans the idioms of contemporary, classical, jazz, popular and world music. He has performed with many well-known and diverse artists including Kathleen Battle, Billy Taylor, and Ghanaian master xylophonist Bernard Woma.

As a freelance musician, he has been in demand throughout the Midwest and performed as percussionist for Broadway touring show productions including Beauty and the Beast, Ragtime, and Titanic. He serves as solo marimbist/percussionist with the Athens, Ohio-based Latin jazz ensemble Los Viejos Blanquitos, and is a member of the New World Percussion Duo. In spring 2003 he performed with marimbist Keiko Abe and the percussion quintet, Galaxy, in a three week tour of Japan.

Admission is $8, adults; $7, seniors and full time students. Tickets may be obtained at the door.

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Media Contact: Public Information Officer and Multimedia Specialist Pamela Wise, (740) 533-4656 or wisep@ohio.edu

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