Kwaku Kwaakye (Martin) Obeng is a composer, master drummer, dancer and educator who has worked internationally for the past 25 years. Born in Ghana, West Africa, Kwaku began drumming at the age of five, and by seventeen he was appointed Royal Court Drummer to the high chief of the Aburi-Akuapim region of Eastern Ghana. He toured as a drummer and dancer with Ghana's National Arts Council Folkloric Company, and in 181 relocated to the U.S. where he joined the New England based Talking Drum Ensemble. He has taught drumming at Brown since 1988.
In the entry level Ghanaian Drumming class, students learn to perform diverse ceremonial and recreational music from Ghana through rehearsals, discussions, readings and listening. Obeng teaches the ceremonial songs and dances of Ghana, West Africa to both beginners and experienced percussionists. Students come together each semester to learn the music of various West African ethnic groups using African drums, bells, and shakers. The ensemble presents their work in a celebratory concert at the end of each semester, which often features visiting performers and communal dancing.
At the advanced level, students learn to perform a more challenging and specialized repertoire of contemporary drumming and dancing styles of West Africa, through more advanced rehearsals, discussions, readings and listening.