photos: Danny Diamond
“An exciting fusion of two very strong and vibrant traditions.” Irish Arts Minnesota
Cumar (“Confluence” in Irish Gaelic) is a live music and dance ensemble based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, which combines the complex rhythms and fluid movement of West African music and dance with the flowing melodies and percussive footwork of the Irish tradition. We are a multi-cultural and multi-generational ensemble, whose members range from internationally recognized masters to dedicated young artists carrying these traditions into the next generation. Through our exploration of the intersection of these two dynamic traditions, we celebrate the creative potential of culturally diverse communities, and hope to inspire people to express themselves and explore their own heritage through music and dance.
Cumar's traditional West African artists are all members of Minneapolis-based Duniya Drum and Dance. Our Irish artists are drawn from the Twin Cities' thriving Irish music and dance community. In addition to our performances with the full dance company, Cumar also performs as a five-piece musical group, featuring two West African drummers and three Irish melody players.
Cumar has received grants from Irish Arts Minnesota and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and was selected to be one of the Southern Theater’s Performance Partners for the 2022-2023 season.
Click here to listen to our interview with Phil Nusbaum on KBEM’s “Minnesota Music Profiles”
About our name
Although the group is typically referred to simply as “Cumar”, our full name is “Cumar na Canadh Croi”, an Irish Gaelic phrase which translates roughly to “the confluence of the singing hearts”.
The phrase “Cumar na Canadh Croi”, when spoken out loud, alludes to both the Irish and the West African origins of our material. In the Irish language, “Cumar” rhymes with “drummer”, and the words “Canadh Croi”, when spoken, are pronounced the same as “Conakry”, which is the capital of the West African country of Guinea. So “Cumar na Canadh Croi” rhymes with “Drummer of Conakry”.
And Conakry, Guinea is where two of our master artists, brothers Fodé and Sana Bangoura, grew up and learned their craft before coming to Minnesota.