Kutapira is a percussion ensemble that formed in 2005 in East Vancouver. The band is made up of five core members, young men ages 25 to 30, who started playing this fusion of world music together when they were kids over 15 years ago. One of Kutapira’s remarkable features is the way that these 5 original members switch seamlessly from instrument to instrument. Every performer is proficient on each of the many percussion instruments that make up their unique sound, from the Zimbabwean marimba’s to the West African djembe to the Afro-cuban conga’s and timbales to the drum kit which provides a steady driving groove. For 10 years the band worked with some of Vancouver’s finest musician’s from around the world to learn the proper technique’s and rhythm’s from the country or origin of each instrument. All of these styles are now woven seamlessly into the fabric of the band, often overlapping but frequently highlighted in the many percussion breakdowns that are written into their arrangements.
There is a magic that is created with these types of instruments that is very hard to translate into recorded material. Something about the energy and the feeling that percussion brings to an audience. It’s lively and visceral… you can actually feel the vibration and the rhythms in your chest… it ignites something tribal within you that can be trance inducing or just makes you want to dance. The transferal of energy between the audience and the performer is palpable and it often grows into something that is more than the sum of it’s respective parts. This is the magic and the joy that Kutapira shares with audiences and it’s the reason why the band has lasted for so long. From toddlers to young adults to senior’s, from elementary school students to people with disability’s to her majesty the queen of England… this unique and original fusion has been able to ignite something within people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Like all things ever changing, growing and evolving so too is Kutapira. The band has incorporated a variety of new instruments over the years. You can now hear them with fully integrated electric guitar, electric bass and vocals. It’s a way to keep the band current, fresh and exciting for both the original members and their long time fans. Many new members have come and gone over the years but the five core members of Kutapira remain the same and they are grateful for the musical contributions of all those who have brought their talent and energy to the group.
"When I first saw Kutapira hit the stage like a bunch of up and coming Groove Monsters the future of world music in Vancouver got a whole lot Brighter!"
-Sal Ferrares, Kwanten University Vice President.
"Around us nine young men, the Kutapira Marimba Percussion Ensemble, give birth to a sound so moving it's underlined over and over in my journal. Not even (host) Bill Richardson can believe that on a Thursday afternoon in Vancouver 500 people from the Untied Nations are dancing together spontaneously"
-Miguel Strother, SFU Delegate, UNESCO World Urban Forum.
"An exuberant youth percussion group that exudes pure enjoyment of the music they are playing. Kutapira puts a smile on your face and makes you want to dance"
-Cheryl Hurd, School Program Coordinator, ArtStarts in Schools.
"We were certainly impressed with Kutapira. Everyone I spoke with during the performance was amazed by how talented these guys are! The group was a FANTASTIC addition to the Fair and a great way to end the first day of the Festival!"
-Eran Norton, Special Events Coordinator, Place des Arts.
"I have a long history of witnessing and playing a variety of world music and I can attest that these "kids" can play - boy can they play! No matter their age, they've earned 'main stage' credibility."
-Bill Usher, Development Director, Golden District Arts Council; Board member, ArtStarts in Schools.