Payton MacDonald directs the program, and he is also currently Chairperson of the WP Music Department. Colleen Bernstein, John Ferrari, and Mika Godbole teach percussion lessons and conduct ensembles and classes. M’bemba Bangoura teaches West African drumming, sharing his deep knowledge of Guinean music. All the faculty members have toured the world and made many recordings and are highly-regarded professionals. Students have the opportunity to work with all five faculty members, thus expanding their range of knowledge. Please read their professional biographies below to learn more about their experience.
Payton MacDonald, Area Coordinator
Payton MacDonald is a percussionist/composer/improviser. The New York Times described him as an “energetic soloist.” The Los Angeles Times described him as an “. . . inventive, stylistically omnivorous composer and gifted performer . . .” His music has also been described as “. . . engaging and utterly beautiful.” (Sequenza 21) As a performer MacDonald has toured the world with Alarm Will Sound and as a soloist, performing in the finest concert halls and recording on some of the most notable record labels, including Nonesuch, Cantaloupe, Infrequent Seams, and Equilibrium. MacDonald has released over 100 recordings, and also finished his Sonic Divide project, which saw him ride his mountain bike from Mexico to Canada, 2,500 miles, self-supported, while premiering 30 new pieces of music in the wilderness and making an award-winning film. MacDonald studied music at the University of Michigan and the Eastman School of Music. His composition teachers include Sydney Hodkinson, Robert Morris, Dave Rivello, Bright Sheng, and Augusta Read Thomas. His percussion teachers include John Beck and Michael Udow. Further percussion studies include tabla with Bob Becker and Pandit Sharda Sahai. www.paytonmacdonald.com
M’bemba Bangoura is revered worldwide for his high level of mastery of the djembe drum. M’Bemba began drumming at a very young age in his native Guinea, West Africa. Guinea has many parts with many different styles of drum and dance. Growing up in Conakry, M’Bemba was exposed to all of these styles in the cultural melting pot of the city. By the age of 21, he was an acclaimed and accomplished drummer and was invited to play for Ballet Djoliba, the National Ensemble of Guinea. After playing with Djoliba and other groups in Guinea for 13 years, M’Bemba moved to the US in 1992. He has choreographed and developed repertoire for dozens of dance companies in New York City and abroad. An integral part of many drum and dance conferences and workshops nationwide, M’Bemba teaches and performs regularly in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.
Colleen Bernstein is active as a freelance percussionist throughout New York City and beyond. In addition, she is the percussionist for new-music septet American Wild Ensemble and a member of Creative Leaps International. She has previously performed and collaborated with notable artists such as Béla Fleck, Silkroad Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Sō Percussion, and Sandbox Percussion. She has won prizes at multiple competitions, including the Universal Marimba Competition, held in Sint-Truiden, Belgium (Ludwig Albert Talent Award). Colleen works as a teacher and community programs designer in multiple areas. She currently serves as the Director of Percussion and Percussion Ensembles for the New Jersey Youth Symphony, and teaches 4-12th grade instrumental music at Léman Manhattan Preparatory School in NYC’s historic Financial District. In addition, Colleen is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Silkroad Ensemble’s Global Musician Workshop. Colleen currently volunteers as a mentor for the Empire State Youth Orchestra Young Leaders Program, and as a member of the PAS Diversity Alliance. Colleen graduated from the Eastman School of Music with degrees in Percussion Performance and Music Education, as well as the Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Certificate and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. She received two Master’s degrees in Percussion Performance and Chamber Music at the University of Michigan, where she was honored to receive the Willis Patterson Diversity Award in recognition of her creative work contributing to building an inclusive and diverse campus community at U of M. Her principal teachers include Richard Albagli, Mark Foster, Michael Burritt, and Joseph Gramley. She is an artist endorser for Malletech and Black Swamp Percussion.
John Ferrari is active in classical, jazz, pop, Broadway, film, television, dance music, and the avant-garde. He has performed and given master classes nationally and abroad, and appears on dozens of recordings as percussionist, drummer and conductor. He is a founding member of Naumburg Award winning New Millennium Ensemble and has toured and recorded extensively with Meridian Arts Ensemble. Ferrari has appeared as guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Chamber Music Northwest, Band On A Can Allstars, The Group for Contemporary Music, Da Capo Chamber Players, Cygnus, Patrick Grant Group, Talujon Percussion, among others, as well as the New Jersey Symphony and other regional orchestras. In fall 2007 he joined the faculty of Manhattan School of Music’s Masters in Contemporary Performance Program, and has been artist faculty at Princeton University since 2010. In 2013 Ferrari also joined the music faculty of Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood, NJ. He holds DMA and MM degrees from SUNY Stony Brook, and a BM from William Paterson University where he has also served on the performing arts faculty since 2002.
Malavika, or Mika, Godbole is known for her enthusiastic support of new music, emerging composers, and is equally at ease traversing the subgenres of orchestral/large instrumental repertoire, chamber music, and niche avant garde. She has premiered several works as a member of Mobius Percussion and has recently joined the New York-based Mantra Percussion. Her musically-adjacent activities include being Artistic Director of Unruly Sounds, Princeton’s first and only new music festival, and is currently the Vice President of the NJ Chapter of Percussive Arts Society. Freelance activities include performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Network for New Music, Richmond Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Orchestra 2001, Bay Atlantic Symphony, Ocean City Pops Orchestra, and Lancaster Symphony as well as a recent appointment as Principal Timpani of the Bay Atlantic Symphony. Recent accolades include a Grammy nomination for Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer with The Crossing and winning the 2016 Bessie Award with Dan Trueman, Mobius Percussion, and Sō Percussion for Outstanding Musical Composition/Sound Design. As a pedagogue, she maintains an active studio of private students and has recently begun teaching at Trenton Music Makers, an El Sistema-based program, in addition to adjunct positions at Rowan University and William Paterson University.