POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—The Vassar College Department of Music will present “An Evening of West African Music and Dance” with Gambian master kora player Alhaji Papa Susso and three special guests — Adjaratou Tapa Demba (vocals/dance), Balla Kouyate (balafon), and Alhassan Susso (kora) — on Wednesday, December 1, at 8:00pm. Free and open to the public, this event will take place in the Villard Room of the Main Building.
The kora is a 21-stringed harp-lute, which evolved from earlier hunter harps used by the Mandinka people of West Africa. It is said to have been invented by the Susso family and is the preferred instrument of the Mandinka Jalolu (griot). Griots are itinerant musicians who were traditionally attached to royal courts, where their duties included recounting the tribal history and genealogy, composing commemorative songs, and performing at important tribal events.
Alhaji Papa Susso, a master kora (African harp-lute) player and oral historian from the Gambia, has performed at universities and concert halls throughout the world. He hails from a long line of Griots of the Mandinka people and began studying the kora with his father at the age of five. In his performances and presentations he recounts the history of his country and his people, discusses the roles of griots in West African culture, and performs the classical songs of the griot repertoire.
The concert is organized by Rachel Chacko, a post-doctoral fellow in the music department.
About the Department of Music
Music has occupied a place of prominence at Vassar College since its founding, in its curriculum, faculty, student activities, and facilities. Formed in 1865, the Department of Music offers an extensive program encompassing opportunities for majors and non-majors to explore performance, composition, history, and theory in depth. Students are encouraged to gain a broad perspective in several or all of these areas. With a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately eleven to one, and an average class size of 15, the department is able to support individual students as they work to realize their full musical potential.
For additional information and details on all Vassar College Department of Music concerts, please call (845) 437-7294 or visit the website http://music.vassar.edu.
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.