1 - 4 June 2022


2 June • National Opera & Ballet, 20:00


One of the modern-day masters of his instrument, Ballaké Sissoko is a Malian kora player known for his instrumental innovation and numerous collaborations outside of West African music. He first rose to international success alongside fellow kora master Toumani Diabaté on the 1999 album “New Ancient Strings”, the world’s first instrumental kora album. Sissoko started playing music at a young age. In 1981, still in early teens, his father Djelimady died, and he took father's place within the Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali. One of the hallmarks of Ballaké’s musical vision is that he has become a serial cross-cultural collaborator, always eager to insinuate the sound of the kora into new and different contexts. It started with a rich set of classical-sounding piano and kora duets with the Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, followed by his collaboration with Irish multi-instrumentalist Ross Daly. He performed or recorded with Rokia Traore, Taj Mahal, 3MA trio (with El Maloumi and Rajery), and Salif Keita, among others. Perhaps his most notable adventure has come in the company of French cellist Vincent Segal, with whom he has recorded two exquisite albums of kora and cello duets. Ballaké ranks behind only his cousin Toumani Diabaté as the world’s pre-eminent kora maestro.