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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    World Music Gang gives fundraising concert

    Peace Elewomi (left) and Bernard Woma work with people in the World Music Gang. The group plays Western African music and will have a concert Thursday night. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Peace Elewomi (left) and Bernard Woma work with people in the World Music Gang. The group plays Western African music and will have a concert Thursday night. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    It seems that we labor under the impression that we’re stuck within one particular field for the rest of our lives. Yet the average American changes from job to job about half a dozen times in his or her lifetime.

    With all these opportunities for reinvention, the possibilities for starting over can take you in all kinds of directions.

    Take, for example, senior Dan Kruse. Kruse, who will be graduating in May with a bachelor of fine arts in fine arts studies, is what you may call a nontraditional student. A member of the UA School of Music’s World Music Gang, Kruse has been specializing in percussion and is all set for the group’s first ever full-length concert today.

    For Kruse, music has always been an interest, though he had put it on the back burner for a good portion of his life.

    After 25 years working in the area of media and communications as a film producer, Kruse re-entered college on a whim.

    “”I said to my wife one morning right around the turn of the millennium that I’d go to School of Music to take a course,”” Kruse said. “”I walked in there and I’m talking to all these people, and the next afternoon I was enrolled at School of Music.””

    Now 52 and closing in on graduation, Kruse has enjoyed his second chance at the collegiate life. Kruse felt awkward entering an institution where people are half his age, but weathered the culture and age gap well for a middle-aged man.

    This same ability for adaptation aided Kruse in his travels to West Africa.

    On a two-month sojourn, he traveled extensively throughout the region with the initial purpose of getting better acquainted with the music and percussion styles that he wanted to perform.

    It was on this journey that Kruse met Ghanaian percussionist Bernard Woma, who will be performing today with the World Music Gang in a rare U.S. performance. A master and veritable superstar in West Africa, Woma is the quintessential performer and entertainer.

    “”Bernard will get the audience involved with lots of dancing,”” Kruse said. “”The last time he was here, Bernard did this a couple years ago here and got everyone onstage.””

    Woma’s charisma and showmanship are exemplary, and his performances go beyond by showing the culture behind the music.

    “”As a result of seeing the music performed, there is a much deeper understanding of what the music is about and the spirit of it,”” Kruse said. “”There’s an intensity of performance when it’s being played when you’re right there to see it.””

    In addition to studying with a master, Kruse got more than just an education in music.

    “”The trip became a broad cultural experience in terms of seeing how it’s like in another country,”” Kruse said.

    Citing the divergent living conditions in West Africa, Kruse came away with an understanding of the region better than any televised report or magazine article could give him.

    Wanting to share this cultural insight, the performance today will also help fund an expedition of World Music Gang members to Ghana dubbed “”Project Ghana 2006.””

    In a further fundraising effort, Kruse is selling an audio documentary of his travels called “”You’ve Got Sweet Ears.””

    The expression is Ghanaian in origin and is a gentle put-down to people who can’t seem to focus because they listen to everything around them. “”Sweet ears”” means they can’t let a sound go unheard.

    The World Music Gang will perform with the renowned Bernard Woma today at 7:30 p.m. in the Modern Languages Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public. The audio documentary “”You Have Sweet Ears”” will be available for purchase. All proceeds will go toward “”Project Ghana 2006.””

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