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South African Guitarist Derek Gripper Joins Trio Da Kali at Zankel Hall

On Saturday, November 12 at 8:30 p.m., Carnegie Hall presents an exciting two-part program in Zankel Hall, featuring acclaimed South African guitarist Derek Gripper and Trio Da Kali, an outstanding group of musicians from the Mandé culture of southern Mali.

Celebrated for his musical virtuosity by audiences throughout the world, Derek Gripper recently searched for new directions in African music and began transcribing the kora (harp-lute) music of Malian masters Toumani Diabaté and Ballaké Sissoko for classical guitar. Mali's rich musical traditions are also represented on this program by artists Trio Da Kali, featuring Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, known for having one of the finest griot voices in the country; master balafon (xylophone) player Lassana Diabaté, and renowned bass ngoni (lute) player Mamadou Kouyaté, all whom have come from a long line of distinguished griots (oral historians / praise singers).

Prior to this performance, starting at 7:30 p.m., ticketholders are invited to enjoy Late Nights at Zankel Hall, a laid-back pre-concert experience. The first 200 ticketholders to arrive will receive a complimentary drink courtesy of Carnegie Hall. For more information, please visit

Derek Gripper's exploration of music making by Mali's greatest instrumental virtuosos has created a new form of classical guitar music, formed out of one of Africa's richest musical traditions. His ninth album, One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali was recorded in a single all-night session and released in late 2012. The album magically conjures anew a centuries-old ancient African musical heritage, interpreting the kora compositions of Malian virtuoso Toumani Diabaté on solo guitar.

Gripper's most recent work incorporates transcriptions and improvisations centered on the work of African composer/performers such as Madosini of South Africa, Ali Farka Touré, Ballaké Sissoko, Salif Keita and Fanta Sacko from Mali, and Amadu Bansang Jobarteh from the Gambia, as well as his own original compositions based on the music of the Western Cape of South Africa and beyond.

Gripper began his formal musical training at the age of six on the violin. After studying classical music in Cape Town for the next 13 years, he began to look further afield for musical inspiration. This search took him to India where he studied South Indian music. On his return home, he began to focus on the guitar, trying to find a new direction for the instrument. He was attracted to the use of multiple layers in the music of Olivier Messiaen and the African-influenced structures of Steve Reich, as well as guitar arrangements of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. After a host of groundbreaking albums which redefined the landscape of South African music, most notable being the visionary Sagtevlei with Alex van Heerden, Gripper began to incorporate the music of other composers in his performances. His long-time fascination with the music of Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti led to a project to transcribe this musician's guitar music recorded alongside his own compositions on the 2012 release The Sound of Water, which was nominated for a South African Music Award for the Best Classical and Instrumental Album of 2012.

His newest album, Libraries on Fire, showcases his ability to speak the language of the griots as fluently as the West African masters who he says "enlarge our idea of what a composer is and perhaps brings us closer to the music of early European classical music." One of the pieces from this album was arranged for the Kronos Quartet.

Trio Da Kali is a group of outstanding musicians from the Mandé culture of southern Mali who come from a long line of distinguished griots (hereditary musicians). Formed of voice, ngoni, and balafon, the trio brings a contemporary twist to ancient and neglected repertoires. The trio's vocalist, Hawa Kasse Mady Diabaté is the daughter of the legendary singer Kasse Mady Diabaté. She has been compared to gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and is acclaimed as one of Mali's finest griot voices. She performs the songs she grew up with in Kela, at the heart of the griot world. She appeared at the India-Africa Summit in New Delhi with Indian Sufi gospel creator Sonam Kalra, and this summer sang in Terry Riley's "In C Mali" at Les Nuits de Fauvière in Lyon and the Holland Festival. Hawa performed on set and contributed repertoire to the remake of the 1977 hit mini-series Roots, which aired earlier this year. Master balafon player Lassana Diabaté, the trio's musical director, began playing at the age of five with his father, master musician Djelisory Diabaté. He later apprenticed himself to the celebrated El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyaté and Alkali Camara. He has recorded and toured with many of West Africa's foremost musicians and was a member of Afrocubism and Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orchestra. He performed on set in the remake of Roots and participated in the Kronos Quartet's commissioning project, Fifty for the Future, with "Sunjata's Time." Bass ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté, the eldest son of renowned ngoni player Bassekou Kouyaté, is one of Mali's most creative musicians of the new generation. He tours and records with his father, and also runs his own studio in Bamako.

Program Information
Saturday, November 12 at 8:30 p.m.
Zankel Hall
·· Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, Vocals
·· Lassana Diabaté, Balafon
·· Mamadou Kouyaté, Bass Ngoni

Tickets, priced $39, $46, are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website,

For more information on discount ticket programs, including those for students, Notables members, and Bank of America customers, visit Artists, programs, and prices are subject to change.

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