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© Svend Withfelt. All Rights Reserved.
For 15 years the South African guitarist Derek Gripper has had a passion for the West African kora, a 21- string instrument. He has been particularly inspired by the great Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté, whose music he has arranged for the 6-string guitar. In 2013 he released the CD One Night on Earth, and this CD he sent to the world famous guitarist John Williams in London. Williams was so impressed by Derek Gripper’s arrangements of kora music for guitar that he immediately invited him to play in a concert series he had arranged in London in 2014 and 2015. This year they performed at the Songlines Encounters Festival of world music in London. At the evening concert at Kings Place they performed both duo and solo. The concert began with a duo where they played Gripper’s arrangement of kora music for two guitars followed by a solo part with Derek Gripper. The West African kora music is built around a theme with improvisation as in jazz. Derek Gripper is a great admirer of Egberto Gismonti, and he played a wonderful version of Gismonti’s Selva Amazonic. In his solo part John Willams played music of the Paraguayan composer Agostin Barrios followed by three Venezuelan dances. He ended his solo part with Djilie by the Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe. Once again Williams showed us that he belongs to the elite on his instrument - world class. Besides his career as a classical guitarist, John Williams has also formed a duo with jazz fusion guitarist John Etheridge. The evening's concert ended with kora music arranged by Gripper for two guitars. In their duos Williams took the accompanying part whereas Gripper took care of the improvisation. With his dazzling technique and musicality, he let us into the kora’s rich world of tone colours playing only a 6-string guitar - fabulous. In November 2016, he will have his debut in Carnegie Hall, New York. In Jarabi (passion) of Toumani Diabaté together they created musical memories for their audience to keep. It only remains to say - please record a CD together for us to enjoy your performance also outside the concert hall.
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