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Bringing talented young musicians from Mali and Cuba together

Posted on 22/03/2012

A concert at Mali’s National Museum

Dr Geoff Baker from the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London will travel to Cuba in March 2012 for the second phase of a research project he’s Co-investigator on. Led by Dr Lucy Durán (SOAS, University of London) ‘Mali-Cuba: Music Across Generations’ is a unique project that celebrates two great musical cultures and their deep historical and cultural connections, through the musicianship of young children.

The project emerged from 'Growing into Music', a three-year AHRC-funded research project that explored children’s acquisition of musical skills and knowledge in India, Rajasthan, Azerbaijan, Mali, Guinea, Venezuela and Cuba. ‘Mali-Cuba: Music Across Generations’ looks specifically at common musical ground between Mali and Cuba, and has the UK label World Circuit Records as its business partner.

Dr Baker says: “The project aims to bring the results of our research to wider audiences as well as back into the communities themselves where we have been working.” He adds: “It seeks to stimulate the transfer of musical skill and knowledge across generations, and to enable first-hand – and first-time – musical encounters between talented children from Mali with those from Cuba.”

The first phase of the project which took place in Mali in January 2012 was a great success – the highlight being a concert performed by 30 children that opened the 2012 series of Musical Thursdays, sponsored by Mali’s National Museum in Bamako.

The researchers are currently into the second phase of the project, taking place in Cuba until 1 April 2012. Dr Baker, Dr Durán and project assistant Michele Banal will be joined by four of the most talented young griots from Mali, under the musical guidance of virtuoso balafon player and one of Mali’s leading musicians, Lassana Diabaté. Dr Baker comments: “None of the Malian musicians have ever left Mali before. They’ll be meeting their equivalents, the talented Cuban children we’ve been working with. Together, they will participate in a series of events and exchange musical ideas and knowledge.”

Further information can be found here.


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