The Rhythm and the Beat - Drums and Percussion in Latin America - Newark Public Library



The Rhythm and the Beat – Drums and Percussion in Latin America


September 15 through December 31, 2016
2nd Floor Gallery

Curated by Ingrid Betancourt

Learn About the Exhibit

José Alicea, 6 to Festival de Bomba y Plena. 1979. Serigraph. Special Collections Division.

José Alicea, 6 to Festival de Bomba y Plena. 1979. Serigraph. Special Collections Division.

The drum is thought to be the oldest known musical instrument in the world. It has been utilized by virtually every culture for a multitude of purposes. The history of drums and percussion in Latin America is the central theme of the Newark Public Library’s 2016 Hispanic Heritage Celebration. From indigenous instruments—such as the bombo of the High Andean Regions, to the double-headed, hourglass-shaped Afro-Cuban batá drum used by worshippers of the Lukumí (Santería) religion, to the timbales, congas and bongos emblematic of modern day Latin music—the history of Latin America has moved to the beat of its drums. The Rhythm and the Beat illustrates how drumming and other percussion instruments have become part of the music, spiritual expression, art, culture, and social fabric of different countries in Latin America.

Other topics include the use of drums for healing in shamanic ceremonies in Mexico and Peru; the annual parade in Montevideo, Uruguay, known as Las Llamadas, led by dancing and drumming on candombe; and the role of the cajón, an ancient Afro-Peruvian box drum, in Spain’s flamenco music.

The public will be able to view short videos that showcase different drum sounds from various parts of Latin America, and see a variety of drums and other percussion instruments, including a cuíca, a Brazilian friction drum; a bongo, a Cuban hand drum; and the Peruvian cajón.

The exhibition is open during regular library hours, Monday through Saturday, with free admission. Group visits/gallery talks can be arranged by calling the Sala Hispanoamericana at: 973–733–7772, or emailing

Public Programs

September 15 • Thursday, 6 pm • Centennial Hall
Opening Reception

cartagenaThis event kicks off the Newark Public Library’s 2016 Latino exhibit and program series. Master folk artist Juan Cartagena, accompanied by members of the dance ensemble Segunda Quimbamba, will present an overview of the history of drums and percussion in Latin America. Cartagena is co-founder (with Nanette Hernández) and Director of the Segunda Quimbamba Folkloric Center, Inc.—a New Jersey based nonprofit cultural arts organization.

Cartagena was recognized as a Master Folk Artist by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) in 2004. He has received Folklife Apprenticeship grants from the NJSCA to further study bomba and plena with master artist Miguel Sierra, as well as to study bomba with Roberto Cepeda, a renowned master artist in Puerto Rico.

This event is cosponsored by the Friends of the HRIC.

September 24 • Saturday, 2 pm • Centennial Hall
Samba to Salsa — A Journey through Latin Percussion

sambaMaster percussionists Josh Robinson, Dendê Macê do and Francois Zayas will introduce the language of the drums and take the audience on a journey through the origins, history and classic rhythms of samba, salsa and other music traditions.

Josh Robinson is a native of Woodstock, NY who has been working as a percussionist and teaching artist for over a decade. He has been a member of “Alo Brasil,” a popular Philadelphia based Brazilian band, “Spoken Hand percussion orchestra,” a group that fuses Cuban, Brazilian, African, and Indian drumming traditions, and “Rhythms & Roots” Latin ensemble, a group that he co-founded in 2000. Cuban composer, arranger and percussionist, Francois Zayas, was a member of the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba for 10 years and has collaborated with projects and bands from diverse backgrounds such as Jazz, Hip Hop, Rock and other genres. Dendê Macêdo is a percussionist, singer, composer, bandleader, teacher and multi-instrumentalist. He’s been a professional musician since the age of 14, when he appeared in the frontline of Timbalada, Carlinhos Brown’s superstar percussion ensemble. Since 2001, he’s been splitting his time between the US and Bahia and working with his folkloric group Ologundê and his flagship band, Dendê & Band.

October 1 • Saturday, 11-5 pm • Centennial Hall
Celebrating Latino Newark

In celebration of Newark’s 350 anniversary and Latino Heritage, the Hispanic American Foundation of Essex County partners with the Newark Public Library to present a display of art work, musical instruments, and traditional dress from various Latin American countries. The afternoon brings a special performance by the Puerto Rican traditional string ensemble, Rondalla de Barceloneta — on tour from Puerto Rico.


The ensemble features over two dozen cuatro, mandolin, bass guitar and Spanish guitar players, accompanied by güiros and bongo drums. The Rondalla de Barceloneta has performed in dozens of venues in Puerto Rico, the tri-state area and Florida. The festivities open at 11am; musical program begins at 2pm. Call 973-733-7772 or email for more information. This event is co-sponsored by Newark Celebration 350.

October 15 • Saturday, 2 pm • Centennial Hall
Drums in the High Andes

Tahuantinsuyo, a pioneering traditional Andean music group, performs and presents the history of Andean music, focusing on native percussion instruments such as the bombo and the huáncar. Andean instruments will be on display, and the audience will be invited to play along with the group.

The group Tahuantinsuyo was established in 1973 by Guillermo Guerrero, a master folk musician from Ayabaca, a small town in the northern Peruvian Andes. Since its inception the members of the group have been dedicated to the research and performance of the traditional music from the Andean countries that once formed the Inca Empire (known as Tahuantinsuyo in Quechua) which now comprises six countries: Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Colombia.bata

October 29 • Saturday, 2 pm • Centennial Hall
The African Drum Beat — South America and the Caribbean

Demonstration of the Peruvian cajón, batá drums from Cuba, Uruguay’s candombe, and other African-based drumming traditions from various Latin American countries.

November 5 • Saturday, 2 pm • Centennial Hall
Bomba and Plena – The Drum Music of Puerto Rico

The celebrated percussion and dance ensemble, Segunda Quimbamba, brings the history of these two signature genres of Puerto Rican music to life: bomba, which originated among enslaved Africans and has over three-hundred years of history on the segundaisland; and plena, called “the singing newspaper,” which evolved out of the island’s coastal urban centers over 100 years ago. The music and dance ensemble will perform and discuss the origins and structure of the two percussion-driven musical traditions. Segunda Quimbamba Folkloric Center is a NJ based nonprofit cultural arts organization that celebrates the Puerto Rican folkloric drum music bomba and plena through education and live-performance.

November 19 • Saturday, 2 pm • Centennial Hall
Community Drumming Circle at the Library

woodMaster Drummer Mark Wood will lead a community drummingwoodlogo circle at the library, open to all. No experience necessary. Drums will be provided—or bring your own! Woods is known for his down-to-earth style that puts people at ease, facilitating a drumming experience with a sense of community and unity. “You don’t have to be a musician,” says Wood, whose group, Wood’n Drums leads drum circles all over New Jersey and conducts outreach programs at schools and community centers. “If you just want to come in and hit a couple of things, or shake a shaker, that’s fine. Rhythm is in all of us.” RSVP at 973-733-7772 and let us know if you will need a drum.

Additional Resources



United States Census – Facts for Features Hispanic Heritage Month 2016