Rhythms of Life Series returns to Penn State Behrend

Free concerts showcase international culture, including music and dance
The musician Rick Reyes plays a guitar.

Rick Reyes performs with Cosmic Jibaros. The group will open Penn State Behrend's Rhythms of Life series on Friday, Sept. 17.

Credit: Contributed photo

ERIE, Pa. — Six unique world-music performance groups will showcase a variety of cultures and traditions when the Rhythms of Life Series returns to Penn State Behrend, beginning Sept. 17.

The performances, which will be held in Bruno’s Café and at the Ben Lane Plaza, near the Reed Breakwall, are free and open to the public.

The concerts are generally scheduled at mealtimes, and in environments where students and others can be exposed to new music without actively seeking it out. Unlike a performance in a theater, which draws an audience that is interested in a particular artist or art form, the Rhythms of Life Series is designed to be open and accessible, and to pique the curiosity of listeners who may have entered the performance space for a different purpose.

“It’s great when a student comes up to me and says, ‘What kind of music was that? I have never heard anything like that before,’” said Andy Herrera, director of educational equity and diversity programs at Behrend, who curates the series. “It is out there for everybody to learn from.”

The series provides opportunities to open conversations and relationships among people from different cultures, including international students at Behrend, Herrera said.

“When students are from that part of the world,” he said, “they are proud to share and celebrate their culture.”

This year’s series opens Friday, Sept. 17, with a performance by Cosmic Jibaros. The group will perform Latin rock fusion beginning at noon in Bruno’s Café.

Other performances will feature the following acts:

  • Oct. 15: Diali Cissokho and Kaira Ba will perform a blend of music from West Africa and the American South at the Ben Lane Plaza, with seating on the Reed Breakwall. This performance will begin at 5:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 10: Renato Diz and Maria Alejandra Quintanilla will present “I Will Play Your Soul,” a classical and jazz improvisation with audience interaction, beginning at noon in McGarvey Commons. The duo will invite members of the audience to create drawings and will improvise music inspired by that art. Reservations for this performance, which includes a free lunch, are encouraged but not required.
  • Feb. 16: The Kotchegna Dance Company will share dance and drumming from the Ivory Coast beginning at noon in Bruno’s Café. This performance will feature stilt dancers.
  • March 17: The Steel City Rovers will perform a blend of Celtic bluegrass, folk and roots music beginning at noon in Bruno’s Café.
  • April 21: The Boilermaker Jazz Band will conclude the series with American jazz and swing music beginning at noon in Bruno’s Café.

The Rhythms of Life Series began in 2002 and features an array of cultural performers from all regions of the world. The series is produced by the Office of Educational Equity and Diversity Programs, with additional support by the Student Activity Fee. To learn more about the series, visit the Rhythms of Life webpage.