There is good reason why many people consider Toumani Diabaté to be the finest – and certainly the best-known – kora player in the world. It was through him that the world truly got to know this 21-string West African lute-like instrument.
The Observer praised him as “one of the world’s most pre-eminent musicians in any genre”. The Bamako-born musician represents the 70th generation of his family to play the kora. He was 13 years old when he made his successful musical début, and his renown has only increased steadily ever since then, first in Mali and later around the world. At age 24, following his first international tour, he settled in London, where in that same year he recorded Kaira, the first solo kora album in music history. This record, together with his concert at WOMAD, the world music festival founded by Peter Gabriel, spread his reputation even further. His openness to the most diverse conceivable music fusions has led to numerous collaborations: he has toured and recorded with Bassekou Kouyaté, Ballaké Sissokko, Taj Mahal, Salif Keïta, Björk, the London Symphony Orchestra and Ali Farka Touré. His joint album with the latter won a Grammy Award in the world music category in 2004.
At his concert, he’ll be presenting his most recent kora duo album together with his son, Sidiki, who in addition to being, by definition, the 71st in this ancient line of griot musicians, is also a successful producer of hip-hop. Although one cannot expect hip-hop this time, one can certainly count on a rivetingly exciting virtuosic concert that nevertheless emanates infinite serenity. Toumani has already appeared once before in Hungary, in 2006, on the main stage at the Sziget Festival’s World Music Main Stage, and now will finally be playing this marvellous, ancient music in a concert-hall environment.
1 December 2016, Thursday
8 pm — 10 pm