What is the heartbeat of Cleveland?
Hear it July 13, when “Symphony for 1,000 Drums” takes over Public Square, kicking off this year’s Ingenuity Festival.
“Drumming is something that resonates in all cultures,” says festival director James Levin. “With the amount of strife and struggle in the air, we could certainly use some communality among us.”
Renowned composer Halim El-Dabh had to create a piece that drummers of different styles and experience levels could play together without sounding like complete cacophony. El-Dabh will conduct on a high platform, signaling with colors and signs. Beginning at 5 p.m., the drum sections will play alone, so that the audience can hear their individual styles, then mesh together.
Levin wants the audience to feel as though they are a part of the music of the city — and the world.
“When the drumming is very intense and you begin to feel it in your own heart, one’s own sense of humanity increases and expands,” Levin says. “It’s a way of connecting with other people.”
Meet the Drummers
His style: Gospel, hip-hop and jazz
His start: As a baby and toddler, “I used to bang my head against the headboard in my sleep, as if the rhythm was trying to come out of me then.”
His “Symphony”: “Different drummers playing different styles, but all the same composition is beyond my wildest dreams.”
Her style: Irish and African
Her start: While singing with her sisters in the vocal trio The Oh!Sullivans, she couldn’t afford to hire a bodhran (goat-skin drum) player, “so I learned how to play one instead!”
Her “Symphony”: “The physical vibration of that many drums has an effect on the vibration rate of the physical body. I expect to have a profoundly moving experience.”
His style: He played original songs with Rusted Root for 15 years. He also plays traditional West and Central African music.
His start: He studied drumming at the University of Pittsburgh.
His “Symphony”: “If Halim El-Dabh is doing it, I expect it to be nothing short of incredible. He is a gift to the planet!”
Her style: Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban
Her start: Her first teachers were her neighbors. She later learned from drummers with regional and national fame.
Her “Symphony”: “I hope we can create a Cleveland song and memory.”
His style: Jazz and Afro-Cuban
His start: Growing up Puerto Rican in New York, he heard conga drumming in the parks.
His “Symphony”: “It’s going to be a very cathartic, visceral and spiritual thing.”
Festival of Art and Technology
July 13 to 16
Alleys, clubs, storefronts and other unique venues throughout Lower Prospect Avenue from Ontario Avenue to East Ninth Street, including East Fourth Street from Prospect to Euclid Avenue
$10 general admission, $25 weekend pass