ERICK VALENTIN MAURICIA, a founding and a leading persona of Ayawara West African Dance and Percussion Ensemble, brought his tradition, his knowledge and his experience of African music and dance to Glasgow from distant West Indies, African Guinea and France.
Erick gained a certificate in Art Restoration in Paris in 1979 and one in Performing Arts at The American Dance Centre in Paris in 1982. In 1989 and 1990 he taught Modern and Afro Jazz to dancers from The Bolshoi and Moiseiv Traditional Moscow Ballet in Russia. In 1996 he gained a Diploma in African Dance from The African Centre of Dance & Music in Paris.
Erick has choreographed, produced and performed for many productions and festivals involving modern and traditional dance, drumming, singing and stage plays in France, in Russia and in the UK. Apart from Ayawara, he has recently performed with Pan African Arts, Mara storytelling group, Guildasa and Maryhill Integration Network. In past, he was a member of various music bands and also performed with the Glasgow Gospel Choir.
For several years, Erick has taught African dance and drumming. He has done work with a large number of youth organisations in the community, e. g. The Princes Trust, Ultimate Sports/Arts, Culture & Sport and Glasgow Life, with schools and also with various organizations involving both adults and children. Until recently, Erick led African dance and music classes at Dance House Glasgow.
Erick has trained for twenty years in Yoga, Martial Arts and Tai Chi
techniques and has practiced meditation for some years. He also studied Counselling with Strathclyde University Glasgow and achieved the HNC in Sports Coaching and Development in 2008 at GCNS in Glasgow. Erick taught Physical Education at Steiner School Glasgow. He currently teaches music for after-school club at Hillhead Primary.
MICHÈLE KEENAN, originally from Scotland, has been interested in African music for many years. For 5 years, she coordinated ‘Partick Beat’, a community drum group set in – teaching classes, organizing variety of outreach workshops and taking the group to perform in festivals and events in and out with Glasgow. Apart from ‘Partick Beat’, she has also performed with Glasgow Drum Circle and The Groove Band. Subsequently, Michele was invited to play with Ayawara. There she has been focusing on playing, primarily, bass drums and has been doing so since 2011.
Michele has been attending djembe classes led by the djembe master Nansady Keïta. She is also a regular visitor and an active participant of the infamous festival of African music and culture ‘African Drum Village’, based in Glen Isla Scotland.
JITKA PEŘINOVÁ, originally from the Czech Republic, became Ayawara’s djembe and bass drums player in 2012, however her interest in drumming goes back to 2008, when she joined Glasgow Drum Circle and studied a variety of African drums with Troy. Since 2011, she has also attended drumming classes led by the djembe master Nansady Keïta.
Jitka is a person of permanent learning and art. In 2004, she gained an MA Diploma in Czech language, literature and criticism in the Czech Republic; she continued her studies of literature in Glasgow University where she later gained her PhD title in Slavonic Studies. For three years, she also worked as a Czech lecturer at Glasgow University.
Apart from music and words, Jitka has also shown her interest in various forms of visual art. Her photos were displayed in number of independent galleries and events and her drawings were shown as a part of The Either Side of the Line exhibition in Glasgow Southside Studios in 2013. She is also the designer of Ayawara logo and Ayawara flyers and website.
Since 2005, Jitka has worked as a Czech and Slovak interpreter and translator. Currently, she is employed by Govanhill/Govan Law Centre as a welfare rights/money advice caseworker for migrant and minority communities living in Glasgow, especially Roma, and a money advisor/financial capability officer for anyone in need.
For many years, Jitka has been supporting an African girl and her family living in Kenya. She is also contributing to various charities focused on community and development work in African continent.
BRUNO LOWIT is originally from France, but has lived in the UK since 1991. After receiving a broad training in North and West African as well as Latin American rhythms by percussionist Guem in Paris in 1980s, Bruno focused on traditional West African music studying with the djembe masters Adama Drame, Aboubacar Keïta in France, and Nansady Keïta in the UK. He has also travelled to West Africa to learn about their culture and rhythms.
In 1997, Bruno moved to Glasgow and in 2000, he was a part of the launching of African percussion group Ayawara, embarking on the magnificent journey of traditional West African music. Since then he has performed and taught percussion with the group, as well as by himself. Since 2008 he has also provided the music for Erick Valentin Mauricia’s West African Dance Classes at the Dance House and other community projects. Bruno has also been a member of Nansady Keïta’s various music ensemble since 2009.
RUTH BRENNAN: Born and brought up in Dublin, Ireland, music has always played an important part in Ruth’s life. As a little girl, she regularly attended classical music concerts at the National Concert Hall in Dublin and played piano and clarinet from the age of 7. In 2008, Ruth discovered African drumming through Tribal Spirit Drumming in Ireland and was immediately hooked! In 2009, soon after she moved to Scotland, Ruth set up Tribal Spirit Scotland Drum Circle and, since then, has been teaching and facilitating a weekly drum circle near Oban on the west coast of Scotland. She has led Tribal Spirit Scotland in regular performances at the Lochgilphead Lantern Parade since 2009 and at several other community and fund-raising events. She travelled to West Africa in 2011 to study djembe with master drummers Mocolou Sanawe and Malo Sonko and has also studied with djembe master Nansady Keita.
Ruth discovered and joined Ayawara in February 2013 and is delighted to be a part of this musical family. She is based in Glasgow at weekends and during the week she worked as a social ecologist (researcher) at the Scottish Association for Marine Science on the west coast where she studied the kinds of relationship that people in coastal communities have with their marine environments. Her interest took Ruth to Israel before she settled in Ireland.
IDRIS (SEYI) AKORMADU, a student of Social sciences and Psychology, is originally from Nigeria. Seyi joined Ayawara at the end of the year 2013 and proved to be a very talented and skillful musician. He is a great contribution to the whole ensemble also thanks to his friendly attitude and playful mind.
The youngest Ayawara member – SIYAYA ANNA MAURICIA. Siyaya joint Ayawara when she was only 11 days old. Her first performance was 2013 Hogmanay celebration in George Square, Glasgow.
ABAYOMI (PAUL) SHOFOLAHAN was born in Nigeria. Paul has been playing percussion since 2011 as a solo street performer and sometimes alongside other musicians. He has recorded and gigged with several bands across different genres including folk, reggae, electronic music and samba.
Since becoming a member of Ayawara in late 2013, he has been involved in facilitating several workshops and classes both in drumming and dancing, and in design work including flyers and photos.
Paul currently studies Product Design Engineering, but plans to focus on music and dance after graduation.
BEN VARDI was born in Scotland and has been playing percussion and bagpipes since he was 15. He studies sound production at S. A. E. Institute and is looking to focus on his own productions after completing the course. After moving to Glasgow to study in 2015, he discovered Ayawara through a friend and has been drawn to the West African sound ever since. Ben is also known as DJ VARDI.
Ben is in charge of the most recent Ayawara’s recordings.
RORY COMERFORD is a Glasgow-based musician, teacher and writer. He is interested in creativity of all kinds. Rory has composed for ensembles such as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Psappha Ensemble, and the RCS Guitar Trio and will shortly release his debut solo album.
RICH GILMOUR, a software developer by day and Jiu-Jitsu practitioner by night, is originally from Aberdeen. He has been drumming on and off over the last eight years but it was only in 2012 when he joined Ayawara ensemble. Rich is skilled in playing different types of African drums but he also makes beats on computers when time allows.
Ayawara thanks Rich for an amazing work on creating this website!
FILIP RIDEG was born in Slovakia. There, he studied classical percussion, mallets, and piano with Josef Hudak, head of percussion section of Kosice State Philharmonic Orchestra in the prestigious Conservatoire of Kosice in 1998.
New explorations of music, life, culture and language led Filip to make a trip to America (2001), where he was gigging with great bossa-nova band ‘Ticket to Brazil’ and collaborating and performing with Estonian composer, guitar player, and singer Calmer Neidla.
After returning to Slovakia, Filip played with various Slovak jazz bands: ‘Papa Steph and his Brass Band’, ‘The Original Vigas Band B. Bystrica’, and ‘Traditional Jazz Band Lucenec’. Filip has performed at international jazz and world music festivals across the Europe, like ‘Pflasterspektakel’ (Austria, 2005), ‘Jazz Parade’, and ‘La Fiesta’ (Swiss, 2006),’X. International Dixieland Festival as a part of the United Europe Jazz Festival’ (Slovakia and Czech Republic, 2006). In autumn 2009, Filip started his studies at Leeds College of Music (LCM). There he received a degree in jazz performance.
Filip has created his own music compositions. He performed them at Headingly Jazz Festival (2010) with a quartet, and played and jammed with his peers, great jazz musicians, at Leeds clubs.
Filip has studied Afro-Cuban and Brazilian percussion with Jessie Bannister, Indian drums Tabla with Bhupinder Singh Chaggar, and Djembe and dunnun drums with Nansady Keïta.
Highlights of Filip’s recent career are performances: ”Synchronized” (a dance and live music spectacular as part of the cultural Olympics 2012 London) and ”Mela” multicultural festival Glasgow and Edinburgh where he performed with Ayawara which he joined in January 2013.
In 2013, he was a singing and acting member of “Music of Strangers” musical.
Filip’s great passion is also community music work and he has done music projects and workshops in USA, UK and Europe over the last 15 years.
ŠTĚVO (STEFAN) KRAJČIK, originally from Slovakia, has been involved with Ayawara as a drummer and African percussionist since summer 2012.
However, Stefan’s interest in playing djembe drums goes back to the times when he was around 15 years old. “Those days, few of my fellow comrades knew where these drums came from or how did they appear in one of the local music shops in Bratislava, but, oh boy, we loved it. After this, random rhythms played on djembes around the bonfire became an essential part of our camping trips.”
In 2009, Stefan became a member of Troy’s Glasgow Drum Circle based in West End Glasgow and with this group he practiced and performed for almost 3 years. Since then, drumming became an important part of his life. “I enjoy every minute spent playing music and sharing this music with my fellow drumming and dancing friends. I work with people who suffer from various mental health issues and drumming helps me replenish my mental energy.”
Stefan is a passionate photographer (look up Stevo Pishta on Flickr). He has exhibited his photos on various occasions. Stefan is also Ayawara’s court photographer.
DOMINIC MARJORAM (to be updated)