The 2015 Murray Arts in the Park amphitheater season will start June 6 with a cultural showcase, featuring a unique lineup of Polynesian and African music and dance. The event will be the first of nine in Murray’s popular annual season of music and theater.
Kimo Watanabe of Pacific Sound Productions, one of the groups performing at the event, describes his group as “a collective of master musicians and performers with roots in Utah, Hawaii, Sāmoa and Tonga,” and one that “brings a musical taste of the islands to Salt Lake City.”
Also performing will be Quinn Reesor, a Utah native who has been studying djembe drumming for the last 20 years with master drummers from Guinea, West Africa. Reesor has performed in Europe, Africa, India and locally. He is a certified teacher for the Tam Tam Mandigue International School of Percussion and is the music director for the weekly RDT Community School African dance class at the Rose Wagner.
Performing alongside Reesor will be Wofa Afro Fusion Dance, whose mission is to bring traditional rhythms and dance of Africa to educate people in the value of African culture. Rosie Banchero-Adcock, artistic director of Wofa Afro Fusion Dance, believes, “African dance and drum empowers you to find strength and freedom in yourself. The polyrhythmic music encourages people to break free from their restricted, conservative, gridlocked bodies and opens peoples’ minds, hearts and spirits to an art form based in rituals and community gathering.”
Kimo Watanabe will bring “a musical taste of the islands” to Murray Amphitheater.
Each performance group will provide instruction and entertainment at the event. The day will start with African drumming instruction at 10:30 a.m., with drums provided. Ukulele instruction will be in the afternoon from 1:00 p.m. -3:30 p.m., with workshops for different age groups. Participants should bring their own ukulele. The instruction sessions are free, but registration is required and will be held at Murray Park Pavilion #5.
The event will conclude with a performance at the Murray Amphitheater at 8 p.m. Cost for the performance is $5 general admission, or $20 for families with dependent children.
“We purposely try to keep prices low to allow families to participate,” said Mary Ann Kirk, Murray City cultural arts director. Kirk’s history with Arts in the Park goes all the way back to its inaugural season in 1990, and she anticipates another season of strong performances. This year’s musicals will include “Peter Pan,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Camelot.”
Tickets for all of this year’s events can be purchased in advance at the Murray Parks Office (296 Murray Park Avenue) or at the gate 45 minutes prior to showtime. For more information on tickets and registration, go to murray.utah.gov and navigate to the Cultural Arts section.