Joyful Noise: Inside KoSA Drum Camp

Festival Background

KoSA (a variation of cosa in Spanish and in Italian meaning “the thing”) is the brainchild of versatile drummer Aldo Mazza (Répercussion) – who creates his own personal hybrid approach to drumming on “the nuke” – his wife Dr. Jolán Kovács (a classical violinist, pianist, and music professor at McGill University in Montreal), and friend Peter Wilder (a Vermont-based film composer, product developer, and proponent of “conceptioneering”), who believes “the evolution of KosSA has been natural and organic.”

Now in its 18th edition, this annual international drum and percussion camp currently takes place at the quiet Castleton College in Vermont (west of Rutland) with offshoot study-abroad programs in China, Cuba, and Canada (with a year-round drum set and world percussion program in Montreal). Raising the bar on percussion education is important to Aldo, who places well-known and unknown artists side-by-side, with attention to drum lineage so people know where they came from. He feels the lineage shows up in the playing and it helps in carving out a path, which makes sense for the future.

Kovács points out that KoSa offers a “buffet of instruments, opening the eyes to a variety of styles,” where “drumming is the glue.” This is certainly the case as I enter one small room where congas, brake drums, steel pans, maracas, and a drum set rub shoulders with one another. Kovács mentions a family spirit prevails and there is no sense of a hierarchy. It’s a concept Mazza reinforces throughout the week, talking about the KoSA family informally as well as in his concert introductions streamed live on Drum Channel, inviting 20,000 listeners to join the drum fest electronically, albeit just for the concerts. Enticing, I imagine, but without the visceral thrill of the live vibrations. And as I discover throughout the week, it’s not easy to watch drumming without jumping into the experience.


6. Eriko on a marimba.


7. Break drum as actual drum.


8. Ron Reid in concert.


9. Another Castleton building.


10. Dom Famularo.

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