SOAS University of London

SOAS scholar collaborates with Kronos Quartet on work based on handclapping songs of Mali

25 February 2019

Ethnomusicologist Professor Lucy Durán, of the Music Department at SOAS University of London has been working with the Kronos Quartet to produce a composition by the singer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté based on the endangered tradition of handclapping songs of Mali.

Part of the composition premiered at Carnegie Hall by Kronos Quartet earlier this month and then also played at the Washington DC Performing Arts Centre on 2 March. It will be given its full premiere at the San Francisco Jazz Center for the Kronos Festival on 31 May.


Above: Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté (standing), at home in Bamako, with her two sons on guitar, daughter and niece. Photo courtesy of Prof Duran

For this performance, Professor Duran and Hawa we will be training the San Francisco girls' choir to do the handclapping, choruses and dances, while Kronos plays the accompaniment and Hawa performs the solo. Professor Duran will also be giving a talk at this event.

Kronos Quartet have announced Hawa as one of the final 10 composers in their 'Fifty For The Future' project, a partnership with Carnegie Hall and others that is commissioning 50 new works—by 25 women and 25 men—expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals. Hawa also forms part of Trio Da Kali, a griot “super-group” brought together by Professor Duran specifically to collaborate with Kronos, resulting in their award-winning collaborative album Ladilikan in 2017.