March 3, 2016: Performer
Samuel Peña is a community musician and educator whose passion for connecting with people from diverse backgrounds serves as a catalyst for his work in diverse community musical practices. Although Samuel connected with hip-hop culture and music as a child, he noticed that his K-12 school music experiences did not relate to his own socio-cultural background. Ultimately, this disconnect fueled his passion to reach others through participatory and accessible music-making opportunities that speak to their own interests and experiences. Guided by two common themes—groove music and people-centered collaboration—Samuel’s research and practices on these themes can be seen in the participatory beat making and folkloric percussion workshops he organizes and in the academic research he conducts.
Samuel maintains an active performance career in multiple ensembles in Phoenix. He is the founder and director of AZ Beat Lab, an organization that teaches beat making to youth in a collaborative, process driven approach and explores both electronic and folkloric rhythmic styles. At Arizona State University, he serves as the music director for the Urban Arts Ensemble where he co-facilitates improvisation of urban music and movement for musicians and dancers. Additionally, Samuel serves as Assistant Director of Urban Sol, a cross-institute initiative of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts to promote the urban arts culture and the importance of their contribution to teaching and research of the arts.
He is currently pursuing the Masters in Music Education degree at ASU with an emphasis on community and participatory music. He intends to continue sharing creative spaces with the community in order to gain a better understanding of how people around the world use Hip-Hop and Urban Arts to communicate. To this end, Samuel hopes to continue being a voice for building responsible communities that promote understanding and respect among various music and dance cultures.