Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Thursday 11 October 2018

Rokia Traoré: Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director Revealed

Regarded as one of Africa's most inventive musicians, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré has been named as the eleventh Brighton Festival Guest Director.
Credit Danny Willems

With her work rooted in the Malian musical tradition yet defying the confines of a single culture, Rokia Traoré"s unique sound and liberating style have led her to be described as "one of the world's great synthesisers, combining the rhythms and traditions of diverse cultures from Africa and Europe into a complex sound that only she could create". (Pitchfork)

Born in Mali to a diplomat father, Rokia had a nomadic upbringing that exposed her to a wide variety of international musical influences from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, to Wagner, Serge Gainsbourg, and the Rolling Stones. 

A protégé of the legendary guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Rokia"s breakthrough came in 1997 when she was hailed as the "African Revelation" by Radio France Internationale. 

Frequently collaborating with world-renowned artists such as Damon Albarn, Devendra Banhart and the Kronos Quartet, Rokia"s diverse output has also included a number of theatre performances, most notably the acclaimed Desdemona by Toni Morrison, a reimagining of Shakespeare's Othello directed by Peter Sellars. 


A dedicated humanitarian, in 2009 she set up the Foundation Passerelle in support of emerging artists amidst the social crises in Mali.

On her appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director Rokia Traoré says:

"I knew Brighton Festival and how well organised it is and being part of the team and exchanging ideas about which artists will be performing and why is an interesting experience for me. 

"It is an opportunity to take the time to look at and to think about other artists' work. These are circumstances you cannot usually create when you are working as an artist, but programming a festival is another experience - you do it from a different angle."

"I'm excited, curious and enthusiastic about the journey. There are lots of things to learn from the city and the audience and the Festival itself and it"s going to be a very exciting and rich few months spent together."

Alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies, Brighton Festival 2019 will feature the UK premiere of Rokia Traoré's theatrical and musical project Dream Mandé Djata - a musical monologue structured around the griot tradition of oral history storytelling, interwoven with classical songs of the Mandingo epic history. 

The Festival programme will also feature appearances from some of Rokia's favourite Malian artists and musicians including a selection of those backed by the Foundation Passerelle.

Other programme highlights revealed today include Brighton Festival Commission and world premiere of a new choral work about motherhood and childhood created by theatre-maker Sheila Hill, Eye to Eye, featuring an intergenerational chorus of women and children recruited by Glyndebourne and featuring Glyndebourne Youth Opera; and a new commission, True Copy, based on the story of legendary Dutch painter and art forger Geert Jan Jansen by BERLIN, the international theatre company behind former Brighton Festival events Perhaps All the Dragons (2014), Land"s End (2012), and Zvizdal (2016).

This year's Festival will also see the launch of an extended Children and Young People's programming strand that will include new partnerships and participatory activities in the run-up to the Festival. 

These will join returning projects such as the 26 Letters Young People's Literature events, Adopt an Author and Young City Reads (presented in partnership with Collected Works), the Children"s Parade (produced in partnership with Same Sky), Without Walls, Peacock Poetry Prize, Guest Director's Guests, and Your Place - free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People's Theatre and community steering groups.    

Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 13 February 2019.

by: Mike Cobley




Share    


Barns Courtney had started his musical journey as part of indie bands, SleeperCell and Dive Bella Dive. He then toured as a singer/songwriter, opening for Libertine Carl Barat but paid the bills by working at PC World. 
Credit Graham_Macindoe

On September 3, 2017, director Mike Mills emailed Matt Berninger (The National's frontman) to introduce himself and in very short order, the most ambitious project of the National's nearly 20-year career was born and plans for a hard-earned vacation died. 

As Brighton Festival 2019 entered its second (and middle) week, reviewer Simon Turner attended the opening performance of Superhoe, at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.

To emphasise just how much they are into his new show, Rich Hall's Hoedown, the American comedian's many fans are turning up at venues dressed in a full cowboy hat and cowboy boot ensemble. 
Credit Chris Saunders

This year is a landmark year for songwriter Richard Hawley. Not only is he due to release his eighth studio album, Further, but a musical based on a collection of his songs opens in his hometown of Sheffield. 
Credit: Kasia Rucinska & Andrezj Strazalkowski

“If we can't imagine a positive future, how on earth could we possibly create one?” - Lucy Neal.

Artist Pete McKee, who opens a pop-up gallery in Brighton, this summer, has announced details of his latest book, Council Skies.

In October 1980 three musicians took to the stage in their hometown of Bradford to play a gig under the name New Model Army.

Local artist Jamie McCartney is exhibiting works at the Design Renaissance Gallery in Hove, for the month of May to coincide with Artist Open Houses and Brighton Festival.

Imagine what life would be like in Brighton following a nuclear attack on the UK? The chaos, the anguish, the resilience ..

This month's, Brighton Festival, the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England, announces a new partnership with Worthing Theatres. This move sees three events brought to Pavilion Theatre.

Kneehigh's Production of Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) at Theatre Royal Brighton was to an extent engaging in semi-unusual ways. 

This Saturday, Without Walls and Brighton Festival bring a day of eclectic outdoor performances that address the urgent political and social issues of our time.
Credit David Bracey

Last Saturday Brighton Festival 2019 launched with a riot of colour and creativity as thousands of children took to the streets in elaborate and impressive costume for the annual Children's Parade.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd