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    

credit Andy Willsher

Musician and songwriter Andy Burrows and bestselling Hove-based author Matt Haig, whose friendship blossomed after they 'met' on Twitter, have spent the past year passing ideas back and forth to create a collection of songs loosely inspired by Haig's books.

Maverick Sabre's third album When I Wake Up is an acutely personal and poignant body of work from the songwriter and artist and includes guest appearances from Jorja Smith and Chronixx.

The London born, Brighton raised and BBC Sound 2019 Nominated singer Grace Carter found through music the strength to speak out, to face down heartbreak and forge something transformative from the pain. 
Photo credit: Sarah Millican

Comedian and writer Sarah Millican has just finished a year-long sell-out tour, including two dates at Brighton Dome, where she encouraged her audiences to make a donation to the Samaritans through bucket collections after every single show.

At 65 years old, and with an incurable illness, award-winning comedy writer Paul Mayhew-Archer decided to go to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 to do something he'd never done before: perform a one-man comedy show.

Canadian alt-rockers Dilly Dally's latest long-playing release, Heaven, rose from the ashes after the four-piece almost decided to call it quits following the rigorous cycle around their much-loved debut, Sore. 
Pic by Grant

Winner of the first ever Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2008, Andrea Gibson remains one of the most captivating performers in the spoken word poetry scene today. 

Ian McKellen is to celebrate his 80th birthday next year by raising funds for theatres, with a new solo show which will play on 80 stages across the UK, including Theatre Royal Brighton.

Last weekend Brighton & Hove Green Party began collecting donations of clothes, food and toiletries for a range of local charitable organisations which support the city's most vulnerable residents

The Turner Prize-nominated visual artist David Shrigley has created a personalised artwork to help raise funds for the Brighton Dome's refurbishment project.

The much anticipated Christmas Queens, at Brighton Dome Concert Hall, began via a video montage of some of the most famous and popular queens from all ten seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race.

After a successful inaugural outing this summer, Black Deer returns in 2019 for a three day celebration of Americana and Country at the Eridge Deer Park in Kent. 

Wave's inaugural podcast festival - which includes podcasts from lifestyle to film to comedy to music - is set to take place across a range of venues in Brighton.
(c) The Unthanks 2018

The Emily Brontë Song Cycle is a new work commissioned by the Brontë Society, written and recorded using Emily Brontë’s piano in her home, by composer, pianist and producer Adrian McNally of the band The Unthanks, and performed with sisters Rachel & Becky Unthank.

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