Dr. Mark E. Sunkett has been a member of the performance faculty
at Arizona State University since the fall of 1976. He is
a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and Temple University
in Philadelphia where he received his undergraduate and masters
degrees. Dr. Sunkett also holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology
from The University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Sunkett has performed with numerous professional organizations like the Philadelphia Ballet and Opera Orchestras, Penn Contemporary Players, United States Marine Band, Arizona Ballet and Arizona Opera Orchestras. During the 1975-76 seasons, Sunkett was an extra "on call" with the world renown Philadelphia Orchestra. Between 1978 and 1982, Dr. Sunkett was principal timpanist with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. He has also served as percussionist with jazz, rock, and other popular artists touring the country. In the spring of 1999, Sunkett collaborated with Composer James DeMars to create Sabar, a one act opera. The Concerto for Sabar Ensemble and Orchestra was premiered by the Phoenix Symphony during the following year with an ensemble of Sénégalaes drummers lead by Dr. Sunkett.
As an ethnomusicologist Dr. Sunkett's principal areas of research are African American and African music, percussion performance practices and Black aesthetics. From 1984 to 1996, Sunkett was director of the Kawambe Drum and Dance Ensemble. He remains with the ensemble in and advisory capacity while pursuing his current research in Senegal, West Africa. Since 1985 he has been principal investigator with the "Drums of Sénégal Project." This project seeks to document rhythms, history and performance practices found among the various ethnic groups in Senegal. His publications include: 1)Mandiani Drum and Dance: Djimbe Performance and Black Aesthetics from Africa to the New World, White Cliffs Media; 2) The compact disk, Mandiani Drum and Dance, White Cliffs Media; 3) A video tape to accompany these titles was completed in 1996; 4) the compact disc featuring Omar Thiam and Jam Bugum entitled, Sabar, the Soul of Senegal was released in 1996.