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KoSA 16

The 16th Annual KoSA International Percussion Workshop, Drum Camp and Festival wrapped up its annual week (July 26–31, 2011) of intensive, intimate living & learning with international drum and percussion masters and a very special surprise guest. Participants and faculty alike were stunned and reacted quite emotionally when Neil Peart, of the legendary renowned Canadian rock group, Rush, took center stage at the camp's closing session. It was an honor for KoSA Founder, Aldo Mazza, to have Neil accept an invitation to come to KoSA and join Aldo for a publicly candid interview on various topics. Neil also took a few questions from KoSA participants. For a postscript, Aldo, and KoSA Artist Faculty members Marcus Santos, Michael Wimberly and Memo Acevedo joined Neil on a drum kit and djembe ensemble improvisation, with Neil moving to djembe for the finale of a once-in-a-lifetime, spontaneous percussion performance.

KoSA 16 finale Master ClassMemo Acevedo, Marcos Santos, Aldo Mazza, Michael Wimberly and Neil Peart

Two KoSA Lifetime Achievement Awards were given out during the course of the week. The first award went to Jimmy Cobb, a jazz drumming legend who, among others, played with Miles Davis during one of Miles' stand out periods. The second was given to rock drumming legend, Neil Peart, whose work with the band Rush has inspired thousands of young drummers to take up the drumsticks and play.

KoSA 16 - Jimmy CobbJolan Kovacs Mazza, Jimmy Cobb and Aldo Mazza (photo by Kip Ross)
KoSA 16 - Neil PeartJolan Kovacs Mazza, Neil Peart and Aldo Mazza (photo by Kip Ross)

"There are many great percussion festivals around the world where the students are the audience. At KoSA, the students are the music!" stated first-time Faculty member Dominick Cuccia. "If a young drummer or percussionist can only have one mind-blowing, 'once in a lifetime' experience, KoSA is the perfect place to have it!"

"KoSA has a distinct family atmosphere of unparalleled sharing and giving-where personal egos are checked 'at the door'," adds KoSA co-founder, Jolán Kovács-Mazza. "It is the nature of every KoSA event to be a distinctly personal journey and this runs in multiple ways...between teacher and student, student and teacher, and also teacher to teacher.

"The sum of the entire experience is what continues to make KoSA Workshops unique," affirms Aldo.


So Many Smiles at KoSA

by Neil Peart

Almost 20 years ago, I met Aldo Mazza backstage at a Rush concert in Montreal. We kept in touch, and in the early '90s, Aldo invited me to a Toronto performance by his masterly percussion quartet, Répercussion. I was amazed and delighted by their virtuosity, and Aldo and I discussed working together sometime on a percussion project.

We never managed to make that happen, but Aldo also extended an open invitation to attend the percussion camp he organized every summer in Vermont. Finally, in July 2011, the stars aligned, and I was able to accept that invitation. And I'm glad I did-my experience at KoSA 16 in Castleton, Vermont, left me with the overall glow, "What a happy place!"

Everyone I met backstage seemed friendly and enthusiastic, happy to be there, and when Aldo and I spoke in front of about 100 attendees, the mood was positive, bright, and infectious. I noticed a lot of smiling faces in the crowd.

Of course, it was because we all shared the same passion-the brotherhood of the drum-and we were all equally inspired and elevated by that relationship. Over our headset microphones, Aldo and I discussed a few topics from our own experience, and took some good questions from the audience.

Then I nudged Aldo and said, "Can we play the drums now?"

He laughed and said, "Yes-but first there's something we must do."

He called out his wife, Jolan, and together they presented me with a Lifetime Achievement plaque, engraved with words that touched me deeply-kind of choked me up, really.

Then I stepped back to a little drumset, and joined a "faculty drum ensemble," with Aldo playing djembe (he is annoyingly expert on all percussion instruments), Memo Acevedo playing bell, Marcus Santos on Dun Dun and bell, and Michael Wimberly on djembe. After an enjoyable interchange, I moved out front to join in on djembe-at which I am inexpert, but enthusiastic. (At the earlier soundcheck, Aldo had warned me not to hit so hard-I would hurt my hands. That's never stopped me before, on hand drums or with sticks and pedals-when I'm whacking the snare and bass drum as hard as I can.)

At the end of that spirited convocation on our various instruments, Aldo played the agreed-upon figure for the conclusion, and we all came down together on the final flam. At that, we all burst out laughing-with the pure pleasure of sharing that conversation together, and ending so tightly.

My smile lasted all the way home, and warms me yet. Thank you, Aldo, Jolan, and everybody at KoSA 16!


For more information about KoSA Music, visit www.kosamusic.com.