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Ossining Library to Host Drum Circle Saturday

OSSINING, N.Y. – For Ossining’s Mickey Sevilla, the sound of a drum can double as a heartbeat.

The percussionist is set to co-host a Cultural Drumming session at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ossining Public Library’s Budarz Theatre. Unlike other drum circles, where a certain knowledge and even instrument is sometimes required, Sevilla is inviting residents of all ages and backgrounds to attend. As for an instrument, Sevilla said he would prefer that residents bring nothing more than an open mind.

“It’s almost better if they’ve never played before,” Sevilla said. “I find drummers who have studied rhythms are more apt to feel like they have to know rhythms and not explore. And exploring is lot of what we’re doing Saturday. It’s really something that can’t be taught, it can only be felt.”

Sevilla said Saturday’s session is a lot less like a lesson and a lot more like “a cultural celebration.”

“It’s called a Bembe and it’s an African-style gathering where people come together spiritually to celebrate our ancestors and to remember our pasts,” Sevilla said. “We celebrate the historical achievements of people of African ancestry during February and this is exactly what we’re doing. We’re celebrating our cultural and ancestral history.”

The Bembe is likely to include dancing and singing along with drumming, Sevilla said, adding that he would be providing more than 30 drums for the circle. Many forms of expression are welcome during a Bembe, he said. But the key for Sevilla is that people feel like a part of a group.

“It really depends on where we go with it and where we as a group want to take it,” he said. “We’ve become very individualized in our culture and this is a chance to really be a part of a group and to go somewhere special with that.”

Croton artist Adele Kamp said she’s sat in on several of Sevilla’s drum sessions.

“It’s an experience people aren’t going to want to miss,” she said. “Drumming has a vitality that is missing in a lot of instruments. Mickey has a way of bringing out that spirituality that you don’t find in other places. It’s really exciting.”

Those interested in attending or learning more about the drum session are asked to call the Ossining Public Library at (914) 941-2416.

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