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Barinyá: West African Drumming Ensemble

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Brian is a graduate of Berkelee School of Music (Boston), having majored in Pan-African Percussion and Comparative Religions. He studied congas and Afro-Cuban percussion with Giovanni Hidalgo, Ed Uribe`, and Sa Davis; Afro-Brazilian percussion with Alabe Fernando Dos Santos; and African percussion with Godwin Agbeli and Aboubakari Lunna from Ghana. He then began an intensive nine-year apprenticeship with world renowned Master Djembe Drummer, Fodé “Mali” Bangoura.

Brian is currently a senior faculty musician at The University of Minnesota. He plays for dance classes, performs, and teaches drum workshops at the University's Dance and Theater Departments and throughout the Twin Cities. He’s been teaching a regular community djembe classes for all ages and levels for the last 10 years. Brian teachers in part to continue to honor the legacy of his teacher, Fodé, who shared Pan-African music and culture to "Bring people together; Make them happy; Celebrate Life."

Brian Van Tassel and Fodé "Mali" Bangoura founded Barinyá: West African Drumming Ensemble in 1995, and Brian has led the ensemble, carrying on Fodé's musical legacy since 2002. Barinyá has performed at First Ave, Cedar Fest, The Fine Line, MN Historical Society, Target Center, and a number of community centers, schools and festivals in Minnesota, Chicago and Wisconsin, as well as at Salem University and Boston University. The ensemble, through performance and education, makes time-honored connections between Africa's ancient repertoire and contemporary music today. Brian is known around the world as a noted djembe fola and for his unrelenting desire to honor the memory of his teacher and friend, Fodé "Mali." He is esteemed as a lifelong learner of drumming, passionately making connections between music and dance and cultures from around the world.

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Contact Name

Brian Van Tassel


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876 7th St W #128
Saint Paul, MN 55102
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Fee Structure

$850-$1,200 30 min to 60 min performance. May include dancer(s).



Morris Johnson


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Jennifer Bangoura


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