Visiting Artists

Visiting Artist Series
Ballaké Sissoko – Malian Master of the Kora

The Williams College Department of Music presents Ballaké Sissoko in a concert of West African kora music, Sunday February 24, at 3 p.m., in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public and is part of the Department of Music’s Ernest Brown World Music Series.

Born into a family of griots, hereditary lineage of poet-historians found among the Mali-Mende of West Africa, Ballaké Sissoko started playing the kora at a very young age. Receiving no formal instruction, he gained mastery of the 21-string bridge-harp by watching and keenly emulating his father, the virtuoso Djélimady Sissoko. Over the years, Ballaké has developed his own distinctive musical voice, marked by subtle rhythmic diversions, unexpected cadences, and an overall nuanced command of musical space and time. A noted and highly sought-after master of the kora, Ballaké Sissoko serenely revolutionizes tradition, creating a synergy that relies on a heightened sense of listening and empathy. At a time in history when Mali is being bombarded by social and political upheavals, Mr. Sissoko’s music is a master class in harmony and healthy community life.

The Ernest Brown World Music Series brings musicians from across the globe to share their musical talents with the Williams College community. The series is named for Professor Emeritus Ernest D. Brown, who taught at Williams from 1988 to 2011.