POOK, the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston, was founded in 1997 by three professional percussionists with a strong interest in education and youth development. Joakim Lartey, Ruben Quintero and Ev Mann come from three distinct cultural traditions but shared a love of drumming and of working with young people. They each brought a unique style to the group that shaped it profoundly and we are still performing material from that first summer. Start-up funding for the project was provided by Kingston Mayor T.R. Gallo and the group began by rehearsing everyday at the Midtown Rec Center. What was intended to be just a summer project turned into a thriving ensemble that is now in its 12th year. Members of POOK learn rhythms from all over the world that they then turn into unique arrangements of traditional material. The group has also composed original material for use with the Energy Dance Co. with whom they perform on a regular basis. More than one hundred area kids have taken part in the ensemble and the group has given concerts all over the region, including performances at West Point and Jacob’s Pillow. Membership is through audition.
Drumming introduces students to traditional rhythms from around the world with a special focus on the music of Africa and the African Diaspora. Basic instruction is given in the techniques of playing with both hands and sticks and in the use of all types of percussion instruments: bells, shakers, wood blocks, djun djuns, djembes, ashikos, congas, bongos and many more. CCE has a wonderful assortment of instruments from all over the planet that are available for student use. In addition to the techniques of playing, students learn traditional rhythms and original compositions, learn to listen and work together in an ensemble setting and discover the joy of making music with others. Gifted and dedicated students are asked to join POOK, the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston. This class is open to children, youth and adults of all ages and abilities.