Christian has played a key role in the development of many Global Grooves projects. As a specialist in Cuban percussion and folkloric traditions, he has worked with the company for many years providing training, advice, musical direction and the delivery of workshops and courses.
Christian leads on many of our ‘Percussion and Songs of the Orishas‘ courses and co-produced our 2015 learning resource. Previous projects have included Cuban Carnival projects and he co-directed Journey of the Orixas, one of our flagship Carnival programmes.
Christian started playing West African music in 1981, in New York, with the Ghanaian master drummer Ben Ladzekpo. This experience cemented a deep fascination with polyrhythmic music that has continued to the present day. A few years later, he started his study of Cuban rumba and ritual music, eventually traveling to Cuba for the first time in 1994 to study with the Matanzan Olu Batá, Ricardo Fantoma. Since then, he has completed more than 25 individual research trips to Cuba, during which time he has studied with, and interviewed, many of the leading ritual drummers of western Cuba.
In 2004, he was initiated as a ritual drummer by his ‘padrino de aña’, the late Mario Rodrigues Pedroso (Maño), and became the first foreigner to play the sacred drums of the Havana Arará cabildo Espirito Santo. He continues to play sacred drums, batá and arará, in ceremonies in Cuba and teaches and runs courses in Cuban music with his company La Timbala. His PhD in Ethnomusicology, combined with his practical experiences within ritual music in Cuba, gives him a unique insight not only into the music and dance of these traditions but also their social context, theoretical ideas and historical development.