Landaya Ensemble
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Landaya Ensemble


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"West African drumming, dancing offered by world musician"

Art has always been a passion for Dave Kobrenski, founder of Black Bear Moon Music and Cultural Project. An interest in West African music and culture has transformed into a full-time job for Kobrenski. A self-described "world musician," Kobrenski found traditional African music worth pursuing during his first trip to Ghana about 3 years ago.

"I immersed myself in the music," Kobrenski explains. "As a musical form, African is one of the most challenging musical forms I've encountered, and I found it extremely stimulating."

Founded in 1997, the Plymouth-based program has successfully introduced traditional West African culture through classes and workshops to the White Mountain Region. "Doing the classes up here was just an experiment, I just wanted to try it and see what happens," Kobrenski explains.  "When we started we weren’t sure if there would be enough interest to make it work."

The experiment worked. "The interest has been phenomenal in the area." Currently, Kobrenski teaches classes four nights a week.

BBM Cultural Program offers classes in West African drumming and dancing during evenings and weekends. Through classes, workshops and presentations, students learn about traditional styles of hand drumming and dancing, with a focus on West African culture.

Dance instructor Kerri Biller also works within the project, to offer her knowledge with a West African style dance course. Biller’s four-week courses introduce students to the traditional dances of Africa.

Musician and BBM founder Dave Kobrenski leads students in a recent West African Drum workshop. [photo by Kevin Sperl]

"Dance and drumming classes work hand-in-hand," explains Kobrenski. More experienced drummers provide background music for the dance classes. "It’s great practice and experience for both dance and drum performers. It’s really something to see the drummers and dancers together."

BBM Cultural Project is dedicated to "promoting a healthy, vibrant and diverse culture through music and art." According to Kobrenski, drumming has been an essential part of many cultures as a means to create group unity. The benefits of drumming include stress release, attention and memory strengthening, cultural and musical education, creativity and fun, just to name a few.

BBM Cultural Project has worked closely within the area since its establishment in 1997. Kobrenski’s program offers schools, camps and workshops for large groups who wish experience something different.

In April, Mascoma Valley Regional High School recently incorporated BBM into their Experiencing the Arts and Choir program. Kobrenski and Biller worked closely with more than 60 high school students through their free periods. The students’ hard work eventually paid off, and they were able to organize a school-wide performance of their new skills. Students were taught traditional songs, dances and beats on the Dunun drums.

West African Drum and Dance classes are offered through BBM to the public. Kobrenski and Biller offer classes in sessions which offer options for all skill levels. No experience is necessary for those interested in joining, and everyone is welcome.

Courses vary from one-day events to four-week classes, and are offered year-round, with the exception of Jan. and Feb., when Kobrenski plans to revisit Africa.

Summer courses will begin in June, and it is never too early to reserve a spot as classes do fill. One-day workshops for beginning drummers will be on Sat., June 12 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Intermediate and advanced one-day workshops will also be on Sat., June 12 from 12:30- 4 p.m. Those interested in a full day introduction to drumming may sign for both Saturday sessions.

Four-week courses will begin in mid to late June and continue into July. The Introductory African Style Dance Course with Kerri Biller will meet on Thursday evenings from June 17 through July 8. The introductory West African Drumming class will meet on Mon. evenings from June 21 through July 12. Intermediate Drumming Classes will be held on Wed. evenings, from June 23 through July 14. Advanced Drumming Classes are on Tuesday evenings June 22 through July 13.

According to Kobrenski, BBM classes are a great experience. "It really is a great opportunity for those who just want to try something new!"

All classes are held at the BP Studios Center for Dance and Movement in the Valley Center on Route 25, in Plymouth. Spaces are still available for most classes and those interested should visit the Black Bear Moon Cultural Project online at or to contact Dave Kobrenski at dave at blackbearmoon dot com or at 744-2711. - Laconia Citizen

"Black Bear Moon's Dave Kobrenski featured on NH Public Radio"

We are very pleased to announce that our very own Dave Kobrenski, director of the Black Bear Moon Music and Cultural Project in Plymouth, NH, will be a featured guest on the New Hampshire Public Radio Talk Show The Front Porch with host John Walters on Friday, September 26, 2003 at 6:30 pm.

Dave and John discuss the Black Bear Moon Project, West African Music and drumming, Dave’s own musical and artistic career, and more! Show will include clips of the Black Bear Moon Rhythm Ensemble performing some traditional west African rhythms, along with sneak previews of some of Dave’s new music.
- NH Public Radio


"Wading into the River Djoliba" - full length CD now available at



Landaya is a talented and dedicated group of New Hampshire-based musicians combining their skills to present a unique selection of traditional West African rhythms and songs. Skillfully performing instruments like the djembe, sangban, dununba, and kenkeni drums, as well as the tambin (an African flute, also known as the Fula flute), kamalen'goni (10-string African harp), the krin (log drum), and more, Landaya weaves together an evening of music that audience members talk about long after the show.

For over 10 years, the members of Landaya have honed their skills as part of the Black Bear Moon Rhythm Ensemble bringing their uplifting performances to audiences throughout the northeastern US. The group has earned numerous accolades, including NH Magazine's "Best of New Hampshire" award. Now, as the next evolution of the Rhythm Ensemble project, Landaya strives to take the music and live show to the next level, with inspired arrangements, a captivating live performance experience, and a continued commitment to the roots of the music.

Members of Landaya have studied traditional Mandinka music extensively. Yearly sojourns to West Africa by founding member Dave Kobrenski have connected the group to the music and teaching of master musicians from Guinea, West Africa. Studying traditional music and culture directly with respected teachers like Famoudou Konate, Mamady Keita, Sayon Camara, Nansady Keita, and many others have afforded the members of Landaya a view into an ancient and important cultural tradition; with the knowledge of the music and culture that has been passed to them, the group acts as a sort of cultural ambassador, simultaneously working to preserve the music as well as actively promoting an understanding of the culture and people from which it comes.

About our name:

Landaya (pronounced lahn-die-ah) is a Malinke word that means 'confidence', a name which reminds us that we must each follow our own paths and dreams, confidently.