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Thursday, October 17, 7:00 pm

Presented By: VTSU

Thursday, October 17, 2024, 7:00 PM

Dibden Center for the Arts
VTSU – Johnson
200 S Pond Rd.
Johnson, VT

Tickets: $10 general admission, FREE for VTSU community.

The BALA-BILA production with Balla Kouyaté from Mali and Matchume Zango from Mozambique is historic, as it is believed to be the first time that the balafon and the timbila have ever been played together. The elaborate orchestral style of playing complex musical arrangements on the timbila sets it apart from other xylophone musical traditions in Africa. Orchestras commonly consist of between five and thirty timbila of varying sizes and ranges of pitch, along with a group of two to twelve male and female dancers performing in front of the orchestra. The accompanying music lyrics serve as an important form of social commentary on relevant issues. Each orchestra has a different tuning and a slightly varying scale depending on its origin within the Chopi territory. The timbila was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2005, aiming to protect, nurture, and encourage the tradition’s transmission to future generations.

Played with mallets, the balafon consists of wooden slats and rows of calabash gourds, which serve as natural amplifiers. The original musical instrument, known as the “Sosso-Bala,” survives in Kouyaté’s father’s home village of Niagassola, on the Mali-Guinea border. In 2001, the Sosso-Bala was declared an item of intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO and is brought out once a year for ceremonial playing.