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Carnegie Hall Presents New York Debut Of Toumani Diabaté 's Symmetric Orchestra, March 30
Published March 6, 2007

The Grammy-winning kora player will perform a diverse program, including traditional West African songs and Cuban-Senegalese Salsa.

Carnegie Hall presents Malian kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra on Friday, March 30 at 10:00 p.m. in Zankel Hall. In this concert, the group’s first in New York, Diabaté and his pan-African Symmetric Orchestra perform music ranging from traditional Malian standards to contemporary Cuban-Senegalese salsa. He has earned acclaim for inventive solo records as well as collaborations with Blur’s Damon Albarn, American bluesman Taj Mahal, and the flamenco group Ketama, among others. Last year, he received a Grammy Award for In the Heart of the Moon (World Circuit/Nonesuch Records), an intimate collaboration with the legendary African guitarist Ali Farka Touré, who passed away shortly after receiving the award. He followed that in July 2006 with Symmetric Orchestra’s debut recording, Boulevard de l’Indépendance (World Circuit/Nonesuch).

Toumani Diabaté is responsible for introducing the kora (a 21-string harp unique to West Africa) to audiences around the world. He began playing kora at the age of five and was quickly recognized as a prodigy, making his public debut at the age of 13 to great local acclaim. In 1984, at the age of 19, he joined a group of young musicians who accompanied the great Kandia Kouyate, the best-known female griot in Mali, and toured Africa extensively with her. At the age of 21, he recorded his first solo album, Kaira; a critically acclaimed work and the first-ever solo kora record.

In recent years, Mr. Diabaté has received numerous accolades including the Tamani d’or, a prize awarded to the best kora player in the world and the UNESCO Zyriab des Virtuoses prize. Throughout his career, Mr. Diabaté has toured the world, performing in more than 2000 concerts, and has participated in more than 170 festivals.

Over the last decade, Diabaté and his Symmetric Orchestra have performed almost every Friday night at Bamako’s Hogon club. They have become one of the most popular bands in the city’s vast music scene, celebrated across West Africa and beyond. Like their recent album’s title—taken from the main road that bisects Bamako—the group’s name refers to a balance between tradition and progress: music preserved from the Mandé Empire that once connected West Africa and contemporary dance-music styles. The Symmetric Orchestra is comprised of players from Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Mali, and its instrumentation includes electric guitar, bass, and drums as well as the more traditional kora, ngoni, and balafon.

Program Information:
Friday, March 30 at 10:00 p.m.
Zankel Hall


Toumani Diabaté, Kora
Fodé Lassana Diabaté, Balafon
Soumaila Kanoute, Vocals
Fanta Mady Kouyate, Guitar
Fodé Kouyate, Percussion
Mamadou Kouyate, Vocals
Mohamed Koita, Bass
Boubacar Diabate, Djembe
Mamadou Fofana, Keyboards
Ganda Tounkara, Ngoni