Wednesday, April 21 2021 | 7:30 PM
From the twelfth century until today, griots, known as “the Bards of West Africa”, have transmitted their music and knowledge from generation to generation through a sophisticated and unbroken oral tradition. Griot and master of the kora, Ablaye Cissoko and Kiya Tabassian, master setar player, perform the intersecting music of the Mandinka Kingdom, Persian Empire, and European Baroque, taking the audience on a journey across regions and eras.
This concert is generously supported by Sharon E. Kahn and Fran Watters and Paul Devine.
Constantinople is a musical ensemble that chose the journey—geographical certainly, but also historical, cultural and inner—as its cornerstone. It draws inspiration from all sources and aims for distant horizons. Inspired by the ancient city illuminating the East and West, Constantinople was founded in 1998 in Montreal by its artistic director, Kiya Tabassian.
Since its founding, the ensemble promotes the creation of new works incorporating musical elements of diverse musical traditions around the world, drawing from medieval manuscripts to a contemporary aesthetic, passing by Mediterranean Europe to Eastern traditions and New World Baroque. Underpinned by a spirit of research and creation, Constantinople has joined forces with leading international artists such as singers Marco Beasley, Françoise Atlan, Savina Yannatou and Suzie Le Blanc; the Mandinka griot Ablaye Cissoko; the Greek ensemble En Chordais, the Belgian duo Belem and the American group The Klezmatics; sarangi virtuoso Dhruba Ghosh, Syrian clarinettist and composer Kinan Azmeh, and Iranian kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor.
Regularly invited to perform in international festivals and prestigious concert halls, such as the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Berliner Philharmonie, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco, the Rencontres musicales de Conques in France, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the Cervantino Festival in Mexico, the Festival de Carthage in Tunisia, the Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens and the BOZAR in Brussels, Constantinople is acclaimed by the public, music professionals and critics alike. The ensemble has 18 albums to its credit on labels Analekta, Atma, World Village, Buda Musique, MaCase, and Dreyer Gaido. Over the past fifteen years, Constantinople has created nearly 50 works and travelled to more than 170 cities in 40 countries.
Ablaye Cissoko, kora
Kimintang Mahamadou Cissoko, aka Ablaye Cissoko, is a singer and kora player who incarnates the crossover between Mandinka traditions and contemporary musical creation. Known for his amazing display of musical genius, he is one of the finest kora player in the world and is able to collaborate with both jazz, world music and even classical artists.
Living nowadays in Saint-Louis, he is an eternal traveller who has performed all around the world, playing with international artists such as Randy Weston, François Jeanneau, Eric Bibb, Simon Goubert, Sophia Domancich, Majid Bekkas, Omar Pene, Emmanuel Bex, Habib Faye, François Verly, Volker Goetze, and Eduardo Eguez, among others.
Since 2012, he collaborates regularly with Constantinople ; together, they recorded two albums, Itinerant Gardens (Ma Case, 2015) and Traversées (Ma Case 2019), and performed more than 100 concerts on the 5 continents.