El Taller Latino Americano

Event Calendar

Formers and Performers Presents: Valerie Naranjo & the Gyil

El Taller presents Valerie Naranjo in a Gyil Performance with her current instructor Ba-ere Yotere. Through the Formers and Performers Series, Valerie brings the intricate rhythms of Africa in what promises to be an unforgettable performance with a gyil master. To the Lobi/Brifo people of northwest Ghana and the neighboring areas in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, the music of the gyil is the essence of cultural identity. These people, whose primary occupation is subsistence farming, have over the centuries developed a highly refined musical technique and a vast and beautifully complex repertoire. The proper execution of gyil music is an art requiring years of training and study. 

Valerie Naranjo known for her pioneering efforts in West African keyboard percussion music, was the first woman to play gyil (African marimba) in public in Ghana, and, with Barry Olsen has been the only non-West African to win the Ghanaian Kobine Festival gyil competition. She has lived in New York since 1981, plays percussion for NBC's Saturday Night Live band, and Broadway's The Lion King, and has performed at 9 PASIC conventions, and on six continents solo, with The Philip Glass Ensemble, David Byrne, The Paul Winter Consort, Zakir Hussein, Richard Barone, and others. She compiled the published transcriptions "West African Music for the Marimba Soloist", "Joro" a series of works for Gyil and Orchestra, and 10 CDs. She teaches Lobi/Brifo Percussion at NYU, and was named Drum! Magazine's "World Percussionist of the Year" 2003 and 2008, and "Mallet player of the Year" 2012. 

Ba-ere Yotere was born in Saru, Northern Ghana and was taught the gyil repertoire and practice by his grandfather, Dannah Dommoche, the patriarch of a traditional family of gyil masters. At age 20 Ba-ere himself was qualified as a gyil master (required to perform in the sacred funeral rite in Lobi society). He toured internationally long before that, with the late gyil maestro Kakraba Lobi. Himself a master teacher who is sought after by other professional gyil players, Ba-ere performs in Ghana's capital city Accra, at such venues as the Arts Council, the University of Ghana, and Kokrobitey's International School of the Arts. Baere also constructs gyils, and is an advisor for the New York Univeristy African Percussion Ensemble. Ba-ere will introduce his CD "Gyil, the Virtuoso Art" on this journey.