Schedule of Performers

Our Diverse Drumming Community

Muhtadi International Drumming Festival is fortunate to have a large pool of drummers from many different cultures right here in Canada. Most of the performers participating in our festival this year are based in Toronto. Our List of performers for 2019 is not yet available.

Northern China Waist Drum & Dance Group

The waist drum dance is part of traditional Chinese folklore, and is commonly seen on various Chinese festive occasions. It originated in northwest China over 1,000 years ago, and it’s believed that waist drums were originally beat by immortals in heaven to dispel evil spirits.

The waist drum dance is basically playing drumsticks, formation changes, and leaping while beating the waist drum. Nowadays, it is usually performed to the accompaniment of rhythmic drumbeats and dynamic songs or music.

Isshin Daiko

Isshin Daiko is a community music ensemble in Toronto, Canada that plays traditional Japanese instruments including taiko (drum), fue (bamboo flutes) and chappa (cymbals). Performances consist of both traditional pieces and contemporary compositions by founder Kiyoshi Nagata and current and past group members.

Himalayan Vibes

Himalayan Vibes is a small group from Nepal, the Himalayan country and  the land of ethno music. The group consists of famous percussionists of Nepal. Currently, they live in Toronto.  They perform Nepalese folk music featuring various drums of Nepal. They have performed at various events in Toronto.

Muhtadi World Drummers

MUHTADI WORLD DRUMMERS is a visibly diverse group. That diversity ends when they start to play. This is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-professional group. It represents the eclectic mix of people that live harmoniously in Toronto, Canada.  It is a cross section of the more than 40 members of Muhtadi’s Saturday morning drumming class in Toronto. This group’s performances are in great demand and it has been featured on CBC (Canada’s national television) Canada Day celebrations and was also the opening act for a performance by popular R&B artist Alicia Keyes.

Scintillating world rhythms and beautifully orchestrated heart stopping beats are musical hallmarks of this group. The big sound vibrates inside of you and MUHTADI WORLD DRUMMERS take you on a delightfully melodic ride on a magic carpet of drumbeats. This group celebrates its diversity by playing in unison.

Amina Alfred


In the realm of theatre arts Ms.Alfred is notably recognized for her contribution as a percussionist, composer, vocalist, make-up artist and scene painter. She is the original drummer of Toronto’s smash theatre hit ‘Da Kink in My Hair’; recipient of four NAACP Theatre awards and two television seasons on Global Television, she has also participated in the U.K and U.S premier productions of ‘Da Kink’ serving as composer for the opening song‘Tialo Tiah Leh (Beauty), musician and make-up artist.

Mohamed Diaby

MOHAMED DIABY began playing the djembe in Guinea, West Africa at age seven, under the supervision of his elder brother Moustapha. By fifteen, Mohamed joined Africa Djole, led by Fode Yulla. Mohamed later joined Les Merveilles de Guinee as lead drummer, touring all over West Africa, including Sierra Leone. Kemoko Sano, Artistic Director of the world renowned drum and dance ensemble, Les Ballets Africains, saw him perform and requested that Mohamed join his troupe. Mohamed continued to perform with Les Merveilles de Guinee and worked simultaneously with Les Ballets Africains. Then, in April of 1995, Mohamed arrived in America to play at New York City's Symphony Space. Today, Mohamed travels around the world teaching and performing Guinean Drum and Dance.


Local artist, David Hynes is the creator of an original art/musical instrument called Conundrum III. Conundrum III is a 12-foot long cedar strip canoe covered in a rawhide skin, turning it into a 12-ft long, canoe-shaped "canoedrum". There are two Conundrums in the world; Conundrum II is on permanent display at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough Canada, and the other is in David's possession and has been taken on tour to various venues in Canada and the United States. The Conundrum is unique in its canoe construction, its powerful sound, and the magic of its communal nature. It has been described as an 'iconic Canadian musical instrument" and, as you can see at the YouTube links, it creates excitement and joy wherever it goes.

The Conundrum bonds people of all ages, walks of life, ethnicities, abilities and cultures creating a harmonious symbioses that is joyful and infectious.

Roots and Branches

Roots and Branches Dance Program focuses on the dances, stories and movements of the African Diaspora.

Joey Muha

Canadian drummer Joey Muha is a virtual YouTube sensation. Videos of his energetic and skillful solo drumming have gained him worldwide popularity with an incredible 150 million combined views! His delightful drumming to iconic hits like Surfin USA and popular children’s songs like I’m A Little Teapot is sure to put you in a happy Festival mood! Don’t miss his performance on Sunday at 12:30pm.

Steafan Hannigan and The Clan Hannigan

Steáfán Hannigan is an Irish musician, author, composer, sound engineer, musicologist and instrument maker. Since 2008 he has made his home in Canada.

Hannigan is a multi-instrumentalist. Some of the instruments he plays are the Uillean pipes, Bodhrán tin whistle, low whistle, bouzouki, guitar, tenor banjo, flute, mandolin and various percussion instruments.

As a young man Hannigan began performing at festivals and local events, playing the Uilleann pipes, tin whistle and percussion instruments. In 1991 he and Simon Care performed the soundtrack for a BBC radio play, Voyage of the Swallows, by Eric Pringle. In 1992 he won an All-Britain Uillean pipe award. In 1994 he published an instructional book, Bodhrán Basics

Hannigan founded the Steafan Hannigan Band, which later became the Irish band Sin É. The band released two albums, Sin É and It's About Time. The group performed internationally, including at Lincoln Center in New York in 1997. Hannigan opened Oisin Studios in Milton Keynes, England, and produced a number of albums, including Tig (Serious Kitchen), and Not to Scale (Kerfuffle). While there he was interviewed by Irish Music Magazine in 1999.

The Joy Lapps Project

Joy Lapps affectionately known as the Princess of Pan is a Toronto-based musician, composer and arts educator.   Her efficiency with the tenor pan and diverse performance range have led to great audience receptions and flattering recognition from seasoned professional pannists.  Joy performs primarily with her jazz trio and often expands this formation to a quartet or to an even larger musical ensemble. She is also a member and supporter of the Toronto-based steelband, Pan Fantasy.   Joy has released four recordings, "Praise on Pan: How Great Thou Art" (2004), “Make a Joyful Noise” (2006) and “It’s Christmas Time” (2007) and recently completed an EP of original compositions entitled “Morning Sunrise” (2014).   In addition to her work on stage, she facilitates steelpan workshops and has been an artist in residence at various schools and libraries in the Greater Toronto Area.  -


Kommotion is a Toronto based, Caribbean folkloric group renowned for their uplifting music and dance performances. Their music evokes the melodic, rhythmic and percussive spirit of African culture, and their repertoire travels from the hills of early slave resistance, through the postcolonial legacy of Kaiso and Calypso’s contemporary social commentary.



Maracatu Mar Aberto

Maracatu Mar Aberto is an Afro-Brazilian percussion and song troupe playing Maracatu de Baque Virado and other rhythms derived from the traditions of Northeastern Brazil. Translated to English as 'the Open Sea', the name represents the aggregated influences that have travelled from Africa to Brazil and onward to Toronto and beyond. Featuring Jerusa Leão on lead vocals, this dynamic ensemble combines the traditional with the original for a raw and dynamic performance.

Afro-Cuban Percussion Ensemble (Cuba)

Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo was born and raised in Cuba. His early inspiration was his musically gifted father Porfirio Nunez, a former singer/guitarist with one of the oldest Cuban orchestras "Brisas de Nipe".

As a professional artist Joaquin has had a successful music career in Cuba. Performing in numerous music events and festivals, he shared the stage with some of Cuba's most elite musicians like Emiliano Salvador, Juan Pablo Torres and Joel Rodriguez Milor.

Eventually settling in Toronto in 1999, Joaquin quickly became immersed in the local music scene performing as a drummer and percussionist with top Canadian based artists (Jane Bunnett, Bill King, Njacko Backo, Eddie Bullen, Hilario Duran, Luis Mario Ochoa), performing in many of the festivals (Montreal Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Beaches Jazz Festival, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Halifax Jazz Festival) across the country as well as internationally.

Joaquin recently finished a stint in the Toronto production of "Dirty Dancing" at the Royal Alex. He is also the leader and musical director of the Afro-Cuban percussion ensemble "Rumba Iyabo" and the traditional Cuban music group "Cubanos". Joaquin also teaches percussion and hand drum technique in the "Soul Drums" music program.

Beyond Sound Empijah

Beyond Sound is a new generation of drummers based in Toronto who studied West African and Caribbean rhythms. Our Mission: Youth who engage Youth to educate through drum and music.

Amara Kante

Amara Kanté is a world renowned Master percussionist, Composer and Artistic Director. His repertoire of instruments include: Djembe drum, Dunun drums, Talking-drum, Bolon, Krin, Bara and Congas. He is a Co-Founder of KOURABA, a Toronto based non-profit organization that promotes world music and dance traditions. He also Co-created the highly successful annual Kouraba World Music Festival (Toronto), an event that brings to Toronto the stories and performing arts talents of International Masters of World Music & Dance .

Recognized as a child prodigy and a professional percussionist by age 7, Amara has travelled the world and performed extensively. Festival credits include: WOMAD, Heritage Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, AfroFest, Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, Massa Festival, Sunfest World Music Festival and the Muhtadi International Drumming Festival. Amara has toured with celebrated troupes such as: Koteba D’Abidjan and Ballets Africains du Guinée.

Ijovudu Dance International

Sani-Abu - Founder, Executive/Artistic Director 

Born into a family of traditional dancers, Sani-Abu began performing and touring at the age of 15 with Benin City's Uyi-Edo Dance Theater Troupe. He spent the past seven years in New Jersey and New York performing, teaching and collaborating with top leading dance companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Company, The Seventh Principle, Michael Mao Dance Company, The Brighton Ballet Theater in collaboration with the Moscow Ballet, Zawadi African Dance Company and Sankofa Dance Theater to name a few. In addition, he has also worked with John Hopkins University in Baltimore, and was a resident artist and educator at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Sani has toured extensively in both Europe and Africa, and has been trained by some of the top dancers and instructors such as Aghabiomon Nogie Ogbeiwi (Uyi-Edo Cultural Troupe), Youssouf Koumbassa (Les Ballet Bagata), Muyiwa Oshinaike a.k.a Babanee (Black Marbles), Felix Okolo (Dance Heritage), Chuck Mike, Candace Hundley-Kamate (Seventh Principle) and Karen Miles (Zawadi Dance).

T.Dot Batu

TDot Batu is a tightly knit Afro-Brazilian percussion batucada inspired by the power and dedicated to the study of the rich rhythmic tradition born out of the fusion of samba and reggae from Salvador, Bahia. As an integral part of the Toronto Tropical music scene they collaborate with members of the arts and music community to create spectacular participatory celebrations that reflect the vast color and energy of Brazilian culture.