St. Mary's University Music Department, Winona, Minnesota

Percussion Ensemble

Founded in 1992, the Batucada Nossa Senhora, SMU's percussion ensemble, is an ethnic drumming group which has become quite popular in the Winona area. Translated literally from Portuguese as the "Percussion Ensemble of Our Lady", the Batucada Nossa Senhora performs a mix of African and Afro-derived music, concentrating mainly on the Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban traditions. Our repertoire features folkloric and sacred music from these traditions as well as popular music set to traditional styles. The group rehearses once a week during the school year and performs several times a semester. Group members include students, many of whom are music majors, as well as community members.

Instruments played in the batucada include authentic surdo, tamborim, agogó, reco-reco, ganzá, and pandeiro from the Samba Baterias of Brazil as well as hand-drums such as conga and bongó from the Cuban tradition. From Africa we also use gongoque and beaded gourds of many types (most of which are made by members of the group) as well as instruments such as the berimbau and talking drum.

Styles we have performed include numerous sambas from the urban areas of Brazil, the marakatu, batuque, and baião from Bahia in northeastern Brazil, guiro, conga, mambo, cha-cha-cha, bolero, and rumba from Cuba, as well as bembé and other processional music from Africa. We also perform sacred pieces from the Afro-Brazilian umbanda and the Afro-Cuban santería both of which are Yoruba-derived religions.

This is a multi-cultural educational experience for all. The repertoire is mastered largely through rote and repitition, and is passed on verbally as the tradition demands. We work on the material much the way people in the regions we draw from would, which while being very demanding, can also be a very enriching experience.