LSM Newswire

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

World Music Icon Ballaké Sissoko at York University Feb 5

World Music Icon Ballaké Sissoko in Solo Kora Concert
- launches Performing Diaspora 2009 -
Celebrating Black History Month through Dance and Music at York University

Toronto, January 14, 2009: World music icon Ballaké Sissoko, one of the world's greatest soloists on the traditional Manding kora, makes a rare North American appearance February 5

Co-presented by the Department of Music, Sissoko's concert launches Performing Diaspora 2009, the flagship program of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples at York..

The kora master will also give a free, public artist's talk and Q&A (in French, English translation provided) on February 4 at 1:30pm.

Sissoko first captured international attention through his tours and recordings with bluesman Taj Mahal and kora player Toumani Diabate. A renowned improviser, he helped redefine the modern language and expressive capabilities of the kora, a harp with 21 strings and a crystalline sound. His music is a masterful blend of African rhythms with Western scales and guitar chords that respects the spirit of tradition while forging a new, highly distinctive personal style.

Sissoko was born into the West African jeli or griot tradition (oral historians and musicians) in Mali. His first teacher was his father, Jelimady Sissoko, grand master of the Manding kora. At the age of 14, he replaced his father in the Ensemble Instrumental National. By the 1980s he was also playing in the electric bands of the leading jelimuso, including the legendary Kandia Kouyate, with whom he toured and recorded extensively throughout the '80s and '90s. His solo recordings include Tomora, Kora Music from Mali and Deli.

Now living in Paris, Sissoko has recently engaged in adventurous cross-cultural collaborations with artists such as Italian pianist Luovico Einaudi, Chinese pipa virtuoso Liu Fang, multi-instrumentalist Ross Daley, and his current project '3MA' with Moroccan oud player Driss El Maloumi and Madgascan valiha player Rajery.

Performing Diaspora 2009 is a celebration of Africanist dance and music at York University and the neighbouring community of University Heights (also known as Black Creek) at Jane and Finch. Throughout February, performances, workshops, artist talks, school visits and community events serve as a catalyst to bring university and community together to celebrate and engage with African and African Diasporic arts and culture.

The Performing Diaspora concert series is produced and presented by the Tubman Institute in partnership with the Faculty of Fine Arts, supported by Winters College Student Council, York University, and Music Africa. Upcoming concerts will feature legendary pianist Randy Weston's African Rhythms Solo Piano Concert Feb. 13 and Rights/Rites of Passage, a West African Drum & Dance Showcase with Malinke masters Billy Nankouma Konaté & Sani Abu Feb. 28.

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