Rum pa pum pum under the dome

OLYMPIA - Caitlin Auer of Olympia and her relatives from Minneapolis, aunt Susan Auer and 9-year-old cousin Chloe Auer, expected to see the sights under the Capitol dome Sunday.

They were pleasantly surprised to take part in Sunday’s sounds, as well.

“We came in and said, ‘Whoa, what’s this sound?’” said Caitlin, 18, a senior at Olympia High School.

That sound was Drums Under the Dome, an event organized by several South Sound drumming circles. For more than two hours, organized drummers and impromptu performers picked up djembes, shakers, maracas, cowbells and other percussion instruments to contribute to a rhythm section that sometimes numbered two dozen.

“And then, they invited us to join,” said Susan. “I’ve never been inside the Capitol before. It’s beautiful and the music is beautiful.”

Drums Under the Dome was timed to celebrate the Winter Solstice, which is today, said Michael Clark of Drumatic Innovation, one of the organizers of the event.

While the percussionists all improvised their parts, Clark led the rhythm and conducted, sometimes leading the group to end on cue, or stopping the bass instruments to allow the bells and triangles to play a rhythm.

“There’s a little bit of structure provided and then people can build in their own thing,” said drummer Joy Urban. “That’s the joy of it. That’s the beauty of it 4 It evolves as it goes along.”

“When I first came in and I heard all the noise, it was like a welcoming,” said Yvonne Fitch of Olympia, who plays djembe with the Crow Drummers, another organizing group. “It’s such diversity to have this in the Capitol.”

Cindy Wolbert of Olympia brought her 4-year-old grandson, Cole Irish, into the middle of the drum circle, where they shook a rhythm with maracas for a time.

“He was sitting there with a grin on his face,” she said.

Venice Buhain: 360-754-5445