Afro-Cuban rhythms explored at Saint Martin’s next ‘Music @ 11’ event

February 7, 2014

Afro-Cuban percussion

The energetic rhythm and creative style of Afro-Cuban percussion will be introduced in a workshop-style format at the next Saint Martin’s University 2013-14 “Music @ 11” event. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, in Kreielsheimer Hall, on the Saint Martin’s University campus, 5000 Abbey Way SE.

“Participants can expect to learn Makuta, which is song, dance and percussion music from Western Cuba. This music has origins in Central Africa and the drums used are said to have inspired the creation of the modern conga drum,” says drummer Scott Saunders, who will be leading the workshop. “Makuta contains much of the rhythmic complexity and form of Cuban music, yet it’s accessible enough to learn in a workshop setting.”

Those attending the workshop will learn songs and rhythms, as well as hand drum techniques. Participants are encouraged to bring hand drums and percussion instruments if they have them. Some instruments will be provided. It is not necessary to have an instrument in order to attend and beginners are welcome.

Saunders has performed with various artists and bands that include Los Calaveras, pianist Scott Cossu, Momenti Rubati Jazz Ensemble, La Onda, Saunders’ own band, and most recently as co-director of Hermanos Rumberos, an Afro-Cuban Percussion ensemble. He has taught Spanish, World Music, and has directed the Afro-Latin Drumming Ensemble at South Puget Sound Community College. Saunders is also the founding director of the Olympia community band Samba OlyWa.

Working with Hugo Flores, a language studies professor at The Evergreen State College, Saunders also developed and taught Ritmo y Música, a method for teaching Spanish using rhythm and music. Saunders has studied Afro-Cuban music for more than 20 years in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Cuba. “Afro-Cuban drumming, music and rhythm are unique in terms of their diversity and rhythmic complexity. For this reason, they have greatly influenced many styles of music like pop, jazz, gospel, hip hop and pop, classical and country” he says.

Born created the “Music @ 11” recital series, now in its tenth year, to raise awareness of the musical arts and provide opportunities for students and the community to experience various kinds of music in a recital setting.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Darrell Born
Chair, Fine and Performing Arts Department

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager