APRIL CENTRONE born in Harlem, New York, started as a performer of drumset at age 9. Today as a drummer she weaves within the genres of rock, jazz, experimental, progressive, funk/R&B and world music. April's other trademark is the riqq, or Arabic tambourine, paving the way for women riqq players in her community with her own original comprehensive and successful methodology in Chiqqs with Riqqs. April is also well-known for teaching all Mideast percussion, including the darbuka (goblet drum) and frame drum, and teaches the 'ud (Arabic lute). April prides her work on encouraging women to feel they are allowed to explore and even master these instruments which are still mostly played by men.
April's Arabic music life began in 2005 with Simon Shaheen's Arabic Music Retreat. She studied 'ud (Arabic lute), buzuq (Arabic long-necked lute), Arabic violin and Arabic percussion under her mentor, Lebanese/Palestinian percussionist Michel Baklouk Merhej. In her 10+ year career as an Arabic/World percussionist, April performed with renowned Arab artists such as Ziad Rahbani, Marcel Khalife, Bassam Saba and Charbel Rouhana, and became the co-founder, executive director and lead percussionist of the New York Arabic Orchestra in 2007.
Centrone has led workshops in Arabic music around the world, including Taipei Chinese Orchestra Silk Road Conference, Taiwan University of the Arts, Music Therapy workshop tour of Malaysia, Berklee School of Music and Cleveland Institute of Music. Centrone co-founded Arabic music and language project مشروع جذور لبنان Project Roots Lebanon, serving youth of refugee camps and underprivileged zones throughout Lebanon. In New York, she served as teaching artist/consultant for Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Connect, year-round world-education public school initiative (2009) and lead teaching artist for Musicians For Harmony’s Music of the World, introducing innercity youth to native musicians from Africa, Asia, Arab World and Latin America (2006-2011). Currently, Centrone leads New York and Beirut-based women's and mixed groups in percussion, 'ud, and meditative/trance drumming.
Venues + Festivals
Centrone has produced events and/or performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, NYC Opera House, Lincoln Center and Town Hall, and festivals such as the Beirut Jazz Festival and Jim Beam Rocks! in Lebanon, Marciac Jazz Festival in France, Festival Du Monde Arabe in Montreal, World Music Festival of New Zealand, Taipei Chinese Orchestra Silk Road Festival in Taiwan, Festival Músicas do Mundo in Portugal and Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors in New York City. Centrone has toured throughout North America, South America, Middle East, Far East and Europe.
Spring 2018 marks the release of Centrone's debut solo album entitled New Moon featuring all-original music and poetry. The album also features April on every instrument including the electric and acoustic oud, buzuq, voice, drums, percussion, piano and guitar. Now available on CDbaby and Spotify.
Centrone's other projects include: drums/percussion w/ Ziad Rahbani Band and Orchestra (2013-2015); oud w/ Lubana Al-Quntar's 'From Syria with Love' - muwashahat, Syriac hymns and Syrian folk tunes (2016-present); oud + perc w/ Persian Music Ensemble (2016-present); drums w/ Maude Gun - Brooklyn-based feminist rock opera (2017-present); drums w/ Jane- all-femme rock band based in Brooklyn (2016-present); drums w/ IKLIL- Beirut-based all-female rock band (2014-2016); drums w/ Hat Lanshouf, Beirut-based original Arabic cabaret (2013-2015); drums w/ Secret Chiefs 3 (2010-2012); percussion w/ Bassam Saba Ensemble- Arabic classical + fusion (2006-present); New York Arabic Orchestra (2007-present); drums + perc w/ TnA- Beirut-based Syrian folk duo w/ Tammam Saeed (2014-2016), Eyvind Kang (2007); Christian Jarvi’s Absolute Ensemble w/ Marcel Khalife (2011); Nolan Gasser's World Concerto (East Oakland Bay Symphony).
Music Therapy and psychology
April leads a unique music therapy program designed for both youth and adults, incorporating drumming and vocalizations for meditation and treatment work, as well as workshops primarily focused on old spiritual music practices designed for healing and transformation work. In March 2018, she was invited for a Music Therapy Tour by the U.S. Embassy of Malaysia where she held sessions at safe houses for young women and refugee youth centers in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang. In 2015, April lectured on Music Therapy at Lebanese American University in Beirut. April's earlier work includes intaking, assessing and diagnosing new admissions at Sagamore Children’s Psychiatric Hospital of New York where she also had the privilege to lead music classes for adolescent girls, and the taught graduate course 'Trauma,' and undergraduate course 'Intro to Forensic Psychology' at Adelphi University in New York. Centrone holds a Masters in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College.
Centrone composed and performed music for "Arabian Nights" by Mary Zimmerman (Peter Jay Sharp Theatre 2006), and performed percussion, oud and violin for one-woman plays, "11 Reflections of September" by Andrea Assaf, "Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia" by Maisah Sobaihi, and "Everyone Has Tears" by Cynthia Sophiea.
April Centrone is a multi-instrumentalist, teacher and music therapist based in New York City. She is the co-founder and lead percussionist of the New York Arabic Orchestra, non-profit organization specializing in the performance and education of Arabic music and the preservation of Arab culture and heritage. She has toured with Arab icons including Ziad Rahbani, Bassam Saba and Marcel Khalife, has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and has toured throughout Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Far East. She has held lectures at universities around the world including Taipei University of the Arts and Lebanese American University, and in public schools throughout New York City with project such as Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Connect. In 2018, U.S. Embassy of Malaysia invited Centrone on a 'Music Therapy Tour' where she visited Rohingya refugee youth centers and safe houses for young Malaysian women in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang. During her residence in Lebanon from 2013 to 2016, she founded project Juthoor, Arabic music and language project for refugee and underprivileged youth. Centrone holds weekly classes for women in percussion, ‘ud performance and drum meditation, and strongly advocates female empowerment in her teaching and compositions. Centrone recently recorded her debut solo album entitled New Moon released Spring 2018, featuring her on drumset, riqq (Arabic tambourine), bendir (North African frame drum), ‘ud (Arabic lute), buzuq (Arabic long-neck lute), guitar, piano, voice and poetry. Centrone carries a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College, New York City.