- 2022 May 23, Lithuanian National Philharmonic, Vilnius
- 2022 May 24, Kaunas State Philharmonic
- Ablaye Cissoko – kora and voice
- Kiya Tabassian – setar and voice
- Pierre-Yves Martel – viola da gamba
- Patrick Graham - percussion
A poetic meeting of string instruments and voices, from the epics of the Kingdom of Mandingo to the royal music of Persia.
Everywhere, from time immemorial, the Word has been embodied by the bard, the troubadour, the griot. These wordsmiths, at once messengers and peacemakers, are the links with the forces of nature, the inexpressible divine, the memory of the ancients. It falls to them to maintain the realm of the collective soul.
Nowadays, these freethinkers and travellers are making the world their garden… like Kiya Tabassian, the ambassador of Persian setar and Ablaye Cissoko, griot from Saint-Louis, Senegal, both eternally migrating birds. This meeting between Ablaye and Constantinople, between strings and vocals, goes back in time to evoke the beauty of being. It is a joint passage through the common sites of the imagination, like a long breath before the inexorable march of the world and time.
From the start, this dialogue between the kora and the setar seemed to come from the depths of the earth, as though these instruments, along with the viola da gamba and percussion, had always existed side by side. This natural symbiosis gave the musicians wings to fly towards distant horizons, and their music has been heard over two hundred time in various festivals and halls around the world.
Kiya and Ablaye name the program itself in the following lines:
- Traversées traces the emotions that inhabit us and the moments of our experiences, our stories, our journeys.
- Traversées visits real and imagined places, accessible and inaccessible, that we dream of exploring, inhabiting, preserving.
- Traversées evokes a state of being coloured by doubt, but also by hope and well-being.
- Traversées is inspired by this deep friendship, this respect, and this listening to one another that exists between us.
- Traversées reflects our desire to maintain the peace inside and around us.
- Traversées recalls the importance of simplicity and transparency in our every step, gesture, and poem.
- Traversées embodies the memory of our ancestors, our forebears, those who live on in our thoughts and have led the way.
- Traversées symbolizes our given mission to sing, play, and transmit our memories to our children.
- Traversées pays homage to the pilgrim, the one who picks up their staff and goes.
About the ensemble
Constantinople is a musical ensemble that chose the journey—geographical certainly, but also historical, cultural and inner—as its cornerstone. It draws inspiration from all sources and aims for distant horizons. Inspired by the ancient city illuminating the East and West, Constantinople was founded in 1998 in Montreal by its artistic director, Kiya Tabassian.
Since its founding, the ensemble promotes the creation of new works incorporating musical elements of diverse musical traditions around the world, drawing from medieval manuscripts to a contemporary aesthetic, passing by Mediterranean Europe to Eastern traditions and New World Baroque. Underpinned by a spirit of research and creation, Constantinople has joined forces with leading international artists such as singers Marco Beasley, Françoise Atlan, Savina Yannatou and Suzie Le Blanc; the Mandingo griot Ablaye Cissoko; the Greek ensemble En Chordais, the Belgian duo Belem and the American group The Klezmatics; sarangi virtuoso Dhruba Ghosh, Syrian clarinettist and composer Kinan Azmeh, and Iranian kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor.
Regularly invited to perform in international festivals and prestigious concert halls, such as the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Berliner Philharmonie, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco, the Rencontres musicales de Conques in France, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the Cervantino Festival in Mexico, the Festival de Carthage in Tunisia, the Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens and the BOZAR in Brussels, Constantinople is acclaimed by the public, music professionals and critics alike. The ensemble has 18 albums to its credit on labels Analekta, Atma, World Village, Buda Musique, MaCase, and Dreyer Gaido. Over the past fifteen years, Constantinople has created over 50 works and travelled to more than 240 cities in 53 countries.
A setar virtuoso and an acclaimed composer, Kiya Tabassian has performed on stages throughout the world with his ensemble Constantinople. He collaborated as a composer, performer and improviser with Radio-Canada, the international MediMuses project, the Atlas Ensemble (Holland), the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and the European Broadcasting Union. Since 2017, he is Associate Artist at the prestigious Rencontres musicales de Conques festival where he presented Constantinople’s most recent creations.
Kiya was a member of the Conseil des arts de Montréal for seven years, serving as chair of the music decision-making committee for three years, and is now a Board member of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. He co-founded the Centre des musiciens du monde in Montreal in 2017, for which he serves as Artistic Director. His artistic projects and creations have received the support of the Arts Councils in Quebec and Canada for years.
Kimintang Mahamadou Cissoko, aka Ablaye Cissoko, is a singer and kora player who incarnates the crossover between Mandinka traditions and contemporary musical creation. Known for his amazing display of musical genius, he is one of the finest kora player in the world and is able to collaborate with both jazz, world music and even classical artists. Living nowadays in Saint-Louis, he is an eternal traveller who has performed all around the world, playing with international artists such as Randy Weston, François Jeanneau, Eric Bibb, Simon Goubert, Sophia Domancich, Majid Bekkas, Omar Pene, Emmanuel Bex, Habib Faye, François Verly, Volker Goetze, and Eduardo Eguez, among others. Since 2012, he collaborates regularly with Constantinople ; together, they recorded two albums, Itinerant Gardens (Ma Case, 2015) and Traversées (Ma Case 2019), and performed more than 100 concerts on the 5 continents.