Percussion Faculty

Duran Ritz (Drum)

Duran Ritz Live

Known for his solid groove, technical ability, and his dynamic stage presence, Vancouver based drummer, Duran Ritz is a mainstay in the North American music scene. Hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Duran holds a degree in jazz studies from the University of North Texas. He specializes in all styles, and is one of the most diverse drummers available. Whether it’s a live performance, tour, private function, drum clinic, or recording, Duran is a first call drummer with a great attitude.

During his time at UNT, Duran studied drumset under the award-winning educator Ed Soph, and performed with the 6-time Grammy nominated group The One O’Clock Lab Band as well as celebrated musicians: Kurt Rosenwinkel, Larry Goldings, Ravi Coltrane, Marvin Stamm, Bill Moring, Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Michael Formanek, Ron Stout, Vic Juris, Composer Darcy Argue, Tim Ries, Bernard Fowler, and Roberta Gambarini. Others he has performed with include Steve Wiest, Brad Leali, Shelley Carrol, Pete Gallio, Mario Cruz, Stefan Karlsson, “Blue” Lou Marini, Dan Hearle, Lynn Seaton, along with several other Juno and Grammy award winners. Furthermore, he has performed internationally, and is a multiple Downbeat award winner. Currently, Duran can be seen performing with Victoria based indie-alternative group Zerbin, Mike Edel, and several other freelance ventures in and outside of Vancouver, BC.

Mario Sota (Drum, Guitar, Percussions)

Mario Sota 2016

Mario Sota, is a Sound engineer, Multi-instrumentalist, Singer, Actor and Music Producer born in Puebla, Mexico and based in Vancouver since 2010.

His journey into music starts with the piano at the young age of 4 having his mother, a classical concert pianist as his teacher.

During his almost 20 years of performance experience, he has acted as guitarist, bassist, drummer, front man, percussionist, soloist singer, sound engineer and music producer of bands and artists of many musical genres, touring both Mexico and Canada. Examples include “Deuteronomio” (bassist), “Banda Magos” (guitarist and singer), “Guadalupe Estrella” (producer), “Mariachi Los Dorados” (guitarist and singer) and currently “Toque Flamenco” (singer and percussionist).

He obtained a Bachelor of ”Sound Engineer and Production Degree” from the renown ”University of Music and Audio G.MARTELL” (MEXICO, D.F.) back in 2009, after which he designed and built the recording studio “Sota Records”.

In Canada, he has performed at major venues and festivals around the country as an actor, musician, mariachi and flamenco singer, guitarist and percussionist. Examples include the Mariachi Festival Canada, the Vancouver Flamenco Festival, Toronto SummerWorks Festival and the PuSh festival. Mario has been teaching guitar, percussion and singing for over 10 years to both kids and adults.

Davide Sampaolo (world percussions)

Davide Sampaolo

“Born into a family of musicians, he has been studying music (piano,
classical guitar and drums) since he was a child.

At a young age he started to studying percussion with the Senegalese
maestros Badu N’dyae and Sena M’baye at the “Scuola popolare di Musica
di Testaccio” in Rome.

He travelled in Spain many years around Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada,
Malaga and Barcelona to understand the language of Flamenco percussion
, and then decided to move to Madrid to learn more about modern
Flamenco Cajon with the great maestros José Ruiz “Bandolero”, Rafael
Jimenez “el Chispas” and José Antonio Montaña.

He played during international tournee for great Flamenco dancers such
as Felipe Mato (Spain), Pastora Galvan (Spain) , Marcos Jimenez
(Spain), Cristina Benitez (Spain), Sandra Cisneros (Spain), Carmen
Meloni (Flamenco Lunares Company), Dario Carbonelli and Lara Ribichini
(Flamenco Vivo Company), Sabrina Logué (El Rio Andaluz Company).

He teached for many years percussion in Rome and since 2014 in all
Vancouver area. He is also working with local flamenco academy as Al
Mozaico Flamenco Academy (Kasandra La China,Vancouver), Alma de Espana
(Victoria), recording and performing with great artists as Liron Man
(Israel) and Gareth Owen (Victoria).”


Israel (Toto) Berriel, is a traditional Afro-Cuban percussionist and vocalist from Matanzas, Cuba. Toto began his professional music career at the young age of 16 in Los Yumurinos, a group formed by the children of the famous groups Los Muñequitos de Matanzas and AfroCuba de Matanzas, two well recognized traditional AfroCuban groups.

In 1988 he joined AfroCuba de Matanzas. He worked with AfroCuba de Matanzas for two years until he was invited to join the world’s best-known Rumba group, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.Toto worked with the Los Muñequitos for twelve years learning the entire AfroCuban repertoire.

A naturally gifted vocalist with a distinctive sound, his easy charm, charisma and his Cuban warmth, make Toto an exceptional and approachable music teacher. His classes are both comfortable and challenging; and the combination makes for a productive working environment. Although Toto is deeply rooted in the AfroCuban traditions, he is also comfortable in different musical environment such as jazz, modern music, soul and funk amongst others.

Toto has toured worldwide in countries such as, Canada, United States, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and Korea, singing, playing and teaching in various workshops.

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