Kahilu Theatre Presents: Derek Gripper Live from Cape Town September 12

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The Kahilu Theatre will present its first livestream concert, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, at 7 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time. It will feature South African guitar virtuoso Derek Gripper. Tickets are priced at $20/$40/$60 per household and the concert will be streamed via a private YouTube channel. More ticket info below.

When it became clear that live concerts would be limited, right at the start of lockdown, Derek organized a livestream concert at Cape Town’s best recording studio, Milestone Studios. The series of concerts was curated by The Melbourne Guitar Festival and went live at 7 p.m. in three cities, Melbourne, Cape Town and New York City. This meant that Derek played three two-hour concerts in a single day. Sadly, the full South African lockdown meant that by the time the concerts were due to go live Derek was unable to leave home to get to the studio, so the concerts were broadcast from his living room. Now, seven months later, with Cape Town slowly opening up, Derek has decided to do the Milestone Concert, this time for the Kahilu Theatre, Kamuela, Hawaii and for the Melbourne Guitar Festival, two concerts in two days, making for a slightly more relaxed schedule than the first series. 

Derek will play music from his latest record, A Year of Swimming, recorded just months after his first visit to Hawaii in 2018. He will also play music by JS Bach and demonstrate his polyrhythmic improvisations, developed in group classes he has run online since lockdown. 

It took Derek Gripper untold hours of painstaking work to transcribe note-for-note the complex compositions of Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté and find a way of playing them on a six-string guitar. The results appeared on his ninth album, One Night on Earth. The album created an unprecedented meeting point between the written tradition of Western classical music and the oral tradition of the West African griots.

Critical acclaim was quick to follow. Classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought it was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it.” Toumani Diabaté himself asked for confirmation that it was indeed just one person playing one guitar. Both invited Derek to collaborate with them: Derek performed with Williams in London’s Shakespeare’s Globe and King’s Place and with Diabaté and his Symmetric Orchestra at the Acoustik Festival Bamako, Mali. He also played with Trio da Kali at Carnegie Hall and won a Songlines Award for the best album in Africa and the Middle East. Derek tours regularly in the USA, Canada, Britain, Europe, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Australia, Malaysia, India, and Mali. 

Aside from these transcriptions Derek has created original music from his diverse influences, from Africa: Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Arvo Part, and Egberto Gismonti. Derek has also spent many years performing and recording his own translations of Bach’s violin and cello music, infusing his interpretations with his lessons from the oral traditions of Africa. 

His works for string quartet, larger ensembles, or installations have been performed/exhibited at The Venice Architecture Biennale, Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival in the UK, and used in films such as “Five Fingers For Marseilles.” 

If You Watch… Have a Good Show!

Event: Derek Gripper Live from Cape Town
When: Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, at 7 p.m.
Watch: The concert will be streamed via a private YouTube channel.
Cost: Tickets are $20/$40/$60 and can be purchased at kahilutheatre.org.


Photo: Steve Roby

Read a 2019 review of Derrek Gripper at the Kahilu Theatre.

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