Bastrop News

Youth learn music from ‘masters’

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Composer and workshop founder Hannibal Lokumbe

Smithville-area youth are getting a free music education while learning from master instrumentalists. Hannibal Lokumbe, a nationally-recognized trumpeter, composer and Bastrop resident whose works have been commissioned and performed by The Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (and recorded by The Chicago Symphony),  – recently started the Sounds in Our Souls music workshops for Smithville-area youth. “These workshops are for students to hear instruments played by masters and to allow the students to decide what musical instruments they want to play,” Lokumbe said. “We take students wherever they come from, but so far it’s mainly been Smithville youth” who are participating, Lokumbe said. “Most of these kids are not in band at school – this is a grassroots movement.”

Nearly two dozen students in grades 5th-12th are participating in the workshops, which feature highly-regarded instrumentalists and composers as instructors, and  which are held once a month for three hours at Smithville’s Historic West End Park (venue). The venue was “one of the last Texas stops on the ‘Chitlin’ Circuit,’ a string of performance venues in the South that served as safe and accepting spaces for African American performers,” according to a Texas Historical Commission plaque at the park. Notice about the youth workshops “has been mostly through the grapevine,” Lokumbe said. “We will accept any students willing to devote the time to the lessons they are given for free.” So far, one workshop – on the intricacies of drumming – has been held, so there’s plenty of time to join the program. Renowned drummer, composer and Austin native Brannen Temple worked with students at that workshop. (Temple has played with Eric Burdon & The Animals, Sheena Easton, Chaka Kahn and Eric Johnson.) At upcoming workshops students will learn from other master musicians invited by Lokumbe – workshops that will focus on African drumming, the workings of a rhythm section (piano, bass and drums), brass, woodwind, string instruments and voice.

New Year’s Eve Concert Supports Workshops:

Lokumbe founded the workshop project with partners Adrienne Duncan and Johnnie Thomas. “The three of us – in association with The Historic West End Park Association – came up with the idea for the workshops,” Lokumbe said. The group’s intent is to raise enough money to purchase instruments for each of the workshop categories. To help support the workshops, Hannibal and friends are coming together Saturday, Dec. 31, for the First Annual New Year’s Eve Ball at West End Park at 242 Hwy. 95 South (across from Smithville High School).  The event includes a full-course meal, a bottle of champagne, party favors and dancing, with music by The Temple Underground Orchestra. The orchestra, founded by Brannen Temple in 2006, plays alt-Afro American music featuring soul, funk, rock and jazz in its sound, according to its Facebook page. “We are going to dance – there’s a dance floor!” Lokumbe exclaimed enthusiastically of the event. (At article publication time, only a few tickets were left for the New Year’s Eve concert. For more details, call 512-581-1212.)

Lokumbe said additional funds are needed to help pay for the workshops. “As demand increases for the workshops, so will our fundraising activities,” he said. “Of course, we appreciate those who have already donated, and those who wish to donate to our project. What we teach the youth in our workshops is life affirming and life changing.” (Lokumbe said checks can be make out to the Historic West End Park Association, 569 W. Loop 230, Smithville, Tx. 78957)

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