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21.05.2004 Diaspora News

US Based Ghanaian Lecturer Appointed President.

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A world renowned arts organization, the Percussive Arts Society has appointed a Ghanaian lecturer and ethnomusicologist based in the US, Mr. Harold Akyeampong as the President of its Ghanaian Chapter.The Percussive Arts Society is a US based music service organization promoting percussion education, research, performance and appreciation throughout the world.Mr. Akyeampong's appointment is the result of hard work and perseverance to found a Ghanaian Chapter following his discussion with Kristen McGuire, the director of percussion at Nazareth College(University), Rochester, who also a board member of PAS, after a workshop at the university in November, 2003.Mr. Akyeampong who is a skillful percussionist is also known as Okyerema Akyampon. He is a graduate of the Universities of Ghana's School of Performing Arts and the State University of New York, Brockport. He is also a lecturer at the Dazzle School of Virtual and Performing Arts, Rochester, where he is the music director of its resident African dance company, Afrikuumba, under the artistic direction of Karen Martino. Mr. Akyeampong is also the director of the Kusum Agoro Multicultural Arts Project, an arts in education program in New York City's public school system. He is also a cultural consultant for a number of arts and folkloric organizations in New York. Among his numerous clients are the Young Audience, NY, City Lore, and the Akan Spiritual United Order. Mr. Akyeampong also performs with two of the US African American Dance companies who are exponents of rich African music and dance the Harambee and Asaase Yaa.In his acceptance letter to the PAS, Mr. Akyeampong thanked the PAS executives for the opportunity given Ghanaian drummers and percussionists and promised that the chapter will live up to expectation. In a separate note, Mr. Akyeampong said that whilst Ghanaian performing is suffering neglect and some of the traditional arts face extinction, there is a paradox in the western world as they are paying attention to African folkloric arts especially music. It is for this reason that the formation of such a chapter in the country could not have come at an appropriate time but is long overdue.Mr.Akyeampong said bringing the drummers and percussionists together would bring mutual benefits including opportunities to share cultural authenticity with foreign audience for multicultural appreciation, global peace and understanding.Mr. Akyeampong appealed to the government and individual to lend support to the arts especially drumming to sustain the culture and to bring in the needed source of foreign exchange. He said, the interests in African performing arts especially drumming that falls under world music series in most of the Colleges abroad have the need for quality native teachers and instructors and it is about time that Africa meets that demand. Mr. Akyeampong said he is talking to some investors in the US for the possibility of establishing a percussion school in Ghana soon. He quoted a Benin's proverb to buttress his salient point that " if you practice your culture, it never dies". He also called on all drummers and drum enthusiasts to register and become members.Mr. Akyeampong said that the maiden national program for the Ghanaian chapter would take place in July and August with guest performers from USA at a venue to be announced later.

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