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The heart of the circle

Imagine a hundred drummers drumming.

Head down to the plaza of the Kimmel Center at noon on Saturday, June 18, and imagination won’t be necessary. It’s going to be loud, and there’s no way the volume can be turned down, because it will be live.

To kick off its annual Citibank Summer Solstice Celebration, the Kimmel Center has scheduled a “drum circle” in its plaza, at Broad and Spruce streets. Have a drum? Bring it and take part.

If experience is a guide, about 100 people will show up ready to pound out a beat, said Sean Hennessy, director of Philly-based percussion ensemble Leanna Song.

Hennessy, who grew up on Carteret Drive in the Brookhaven section of the Far Northeast, will direct the percussion en masse.

He’s done it a few times, but the drum circle used to conclude the more than half-day-long summer solstice celebration at sunrise. This is the first time the drum circle will kick off the live music and entertainment event, which concludes at 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 19.

The celebration the weekend before the first day of summer showcases Philly-based talent in every part of the Kimmel Center for $10 ($5 for children age 12 and younger).

So how will Hennessy organize 100 or so percussionists who have never played together?

Well, the drummers won’t be the people who just show up. The 12-piece Leanna Song will be there with Ghanaian ewe and Cuban bata drums as well as other instruments. The group performs adapted traditional rhythms from around the world as well as original material.

Hennessy, who now lives in Northern Liberties, has not only previously directed the drum circle, he also teaches percussion throughout the city. He’s ready.

“I’ll use a bullhorn or a microphone” to get directions across to participants, he said.

It won’t take but five minutes or so to break drummers into groups and get them playing.

“There are certain tricks to keep it going smoothly,” he said in a phone interview. And not everybody brings drums, he said. “Some people bring instruments like flutes or saxophones,” he said.

Drummers will then parade onto the stage for a performance, he said.

After the B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Drum) event, attendees will be able to choose from a classical, blues, R&B, jazz, hip-hop, dance, Latin, world music rhythms and DJs spinning music. There will be 40 acts in 14 hours.

Plus, the Center for Emerging Visual Artists will present a gallery of visual art available for purchase on Tiers 1 and 2.

In the evening, there will be a slot on the Commonwealth Plaza stage for the YouTube Summer Solstice Contest Winner to perform. This winner, who will be announced June 10, will be picked on Facebook by Kimmel Center fans.

There will be some family-friendly activities including traveling exhibits from the Please Touch Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo. The Plants and Ernie & Neal combine storytelling with performances for concerts that kids and their parents will enjoy. Also, Threeds Oboe Trio, Kimmel Center Youth Jazz Ensemble and Rennie Harris RHAW, a hip-hop performance, will entertain audiences of all ages.

The evening heats up with SA VA Boutique Fashion Show presenting eco-conscious summer line; a First Person Arts Story Slam; guitar virtuoso and Deutsche Grammophon recording artist Milo? Karadagliæ; singer-songwriter Phil Roy performs with celebrated Philly chef Marc Vetri; Brazilian band Minas Troupe brings a 10-piece carnival to the Commonwealth Plaza, and singer-songwriter Nicole Reynolds will perform.

Late at night, Bob & Barbara’s Drag Show takes center stage in the Plaza, followed by DJ Ultra Violet and Ethel Cee, and Reef The Lost Cauze featuring DJ Caliph-Now and DJ David Blakk. Perelman Theater transforms into a late-night dance party with Irish favorites Blackthorn and ArcheDream for Humankind; Innovation Studio includes Urban Celebrity Magazine’s Showcase of young Philly talent featuring Young Savage, Chill Moody and R6 Cypher, and AfroTaino Productions presents MAMBO3000, an experimental dance party with DJ Rahsaan and special guests including El Malito, Rap Soup and more.

Henna tattoo artists, chair massages, tarot card readers, face-painters and more will be stationed in Commonwealth Plaza at various times throughout the celebration. Wolfgang Puck Catering will provide food and drink options throughout the day and night at Peco Café and The Lounge by Wolfgang Puck. ••

For a complete, up-to-date list of performers, visit www.kimmelcenter.org/solstice

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