Asheville Percussion Festival announces 2018 lineup

Press release from Asheville Percussion Festival:

Asheville Rhythm proudly hosts the Seventh Annual Asheville Percussion Festival, June 25-July 1st, 2018, at the Odyssey School in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women in Rhythm,” as we shine a spotlight on powerful female percussionists from around the globe.

We are excited to be bringing Kasiva Mutua all the way from Kenya. Kasiva tours internationally with the Nile Project and was recently recognized by OkayAfrica as one of 100 Women in Africa who stand out for “driving positive impact on their communities and the world at large.” Other artists presenting at the festival include world-renowned doumbek player, Raquy Danziger, who is coming from Istanbul, Turkey, and is especially distinguished for her speed, complex rhythmic arrangements, and adept execution of split-hand technique. Naghmeh Farahmand, virtuoso on Persian frame drum, is back by popular demand, along with djembe and conga superstar and creator of the Mo’Rhythm School and App, Monette Marino. New to the lineup this year, we welcome drummer and vocalist, Lisette Santiago, who has performed with Pancho Quinto, Cyro Baptista, and others, and who specializes in Latin percussion, including the ceremonial batá drum. We also welcome Bonnie Whiting, experimental percussionist who is the current Head of the Percussion Department at University of Washington School of Music.

All of these amazing performers and educators will be joined by a talented array of local professionals, including iconic busker and radio host, Abby the Spoon Lady; versatile world-percussionist and djembefola, Jessie Lehmann; accomplished cellist, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, and song-writer, Isabel Castellvi; and Asheville Rhythm’s Artistic Director, River Guerguerian. Special guests include: multi-instrumentalist, Chris Rosser and Grammy Award winner, Eliot Wadopian; as well as poet, fiction writer, and spoken-word artist, Alli Marshall; traditional Bharat Natyam dancer, Aparna Keshaviah; gong master and certified sound practitioner, Megan Sprague; and Appalachian one-man band, Chris Rodrigues.

During their weeklong residency in Asheville, these artists will teach classes in their respective ethnic traditions and areas of specialty to students enrolled in a weeklong intensive percussion program and collaboratively compose musical arrangements, blending their unique styles and sounds, to create a rich tapestry of world rhythms and melodies. They will perform these compositions together for a once in a lifetime convergence at the Masters Concert event that kicks off the festival weekend on Friday, June 29th, 8:00 pm, at Diana Wortham Theatre.

The Residency Artists and a selection of local percussionists and dancers will teach FREE workshops to the general public from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday, June 30th, at the Odyssey School at 90 Zillicoa Street in Asheville. The Saturday daytime events are FREE but do require an online registration for space purposes. Saturday’s festivities will also include a silent auction, vendors, demo performances, dancing, casual fun for the whole family, a food truck by Cecilia’s Kitchen, and an ice-cream booth by The Hop. Saturday evening, the artists will perform a casual concert of solo pieces and improvisational jams at a separate ticketed event, also being held at Odyssey School.

The weekend culminates Sunday, July 1st, 12 to 1:30pm in a Sound Meditation featuring Free Planet Radio, gong-master, Megan Sprague, and others. Participants relax as they bask in gentle sound vibrations emanating from frame drums, gongs, singing bowls, handpans, and other instruments. The Sound Meditation will be held at Odyssey School. Throughout the week, the artists and intensive students will dine at sponsoring restaurants, including the Grey Eagle, and Farm Burger. Wednesday evening, June 27th, at 8pm, Bonnie Whiting will do a special performance at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Post-festival, there will be exclusive all-day doumbek workshops with Raquy Danziger on Monday and Tuesday, July 2nd and 3rd. Email to inquire about those special workshops. Tickets for all festival concerts and events, including the workshops with Raquy, are available on-line at:

The Asheville Percussion Festival is hosted by Asheville Rhythm. This project was supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources. This event is also funded in part by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’sFestivals and Cultural Events Funding Program.


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