Orchestra Gold with Mariam Diakité

(USA and Mali)

Date and Time: Friday, May 25, 7:00 PM
Duration: 60 mins, without intermission
Location: Gallery 308

Ticket Information

General Admission: $12

Festival Pass

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Artist Info


Work Sample
Orchestra Gold on Soundcloud

Orchestra Gold.jpg

Orchestra Gold plays the celebrated style of big band music developed during Mali’s post-independence “golden” era, the 1960’s and 1970’s. The building blocks of Orchestra Gold’s compositions are folkloric songs, often told in parable, some of which have origins dating back hundreds of years. These songs contain inspiration, wisdom, deep insight, and have historically helped to uplift Malians beyond the harsh realities of daily life. We believe that these messages hold applications that transcend the era in which they were birthed. Especially in these times of social turbulence, this age-old wisdom brings a renewed perspective on modern-day existence.

Artists' Bios

Ms. Mariam Diakité is a Malian dancer, teacher & singer, and an all-around extremely versatile artist. Uniquely interested in mining the depths of Mali’s cultural heritage, she is extremely in-demand within the Bamako (Capital of Mali) music scene for weddings, baptisms, and has been a member of an established and respected dance troupe in Bamako for a number of years. She has travelled extensively within her country and throughout West Africa representing the unique style of Malian dance. Her expertise and willingness to go deep into the mine of Mali’s folklore bring her to Orchestra Gold.

Mandjou Koné was born and raised in Mali and Burkina Faso. As a young girl Mandjou assisted her Griot father in singing, dancing and playing instruments like the Djembe,Bala, Dundun, Kora and Tama. She also performed with the National Ballet of Burkina Faso and toured Europe extensively as lead singer of Surutukunu. Mandjou was invited to come to the US to help translating a documentary about the last 40 years of her family’s musical tradition, entitled "Great Great Great Grandparents' Music". She bring awe-inspiring talent to the performances of Orchestra Gold.

Born in Tuscaloosa Alabama, Paul Sounder, was steeped in the rhythms and blues of the Deep South. At the encouragement of his musician parents, he began playing gigs on bass at age 15. Moving to California in 2006, his horizons were dramatically widened. He joined Antioquia, which fused experimental rock with percussive folk music of Colombia and West Africa. Now in Oakland, Paul continues expanding his horizons on the bass. He spend three years with flamenco master Jason McGuire, and now plays with cumbia band La Misa Negra. He brings this firm foundational in africentric music to Orchestra Gold..

Jesse Servin has spent over 15 years under the direct tutelage of the acclaimed djembe master, Abdoulaye Diakité. Over the years, Jesse has cultivated a deep connection with Abdoulaye’s home in Tambacounda, Senegal. Jesse has also been integrally involved in the development of Abdoulaye’s land into a sustainable, net zero, community center for the arts. Stateside, Jesse has taught courses at Ashkenaz, BrasArte, organized workshops, and sponsored artists. He is recognized as a foundational pillar of the West African drum and dance community in the Bay Area. He taps into this prolific experience for Orchestra Gold.

A gifted multi-instrumentalist, Erich Huffaker has studied the Bambara music of Mali for the last 13 years. Fluent in Bambara and French, he has lived extensively in Mali, learning guitar, djembe, and dunun. His primary djembe teachers have been Matché Kassim Traoré and Idrissa Koné. He has also studied Bambara guitar music with Mohammed Medecin Diawara, in the ancient Bambara capital of Ségou. Formerly a member of the cumbia band La Misa Negra, he has toured across the United States over the last three years. He weaves the tapestry of these influences into the fabric of Orchestra Gold’s music.

Richmond Wiggins hails from West Oakland. He started playing djembe at 6, when his pastor overheard him ask another young musician, "Can i play with you in front of the church?" The next day the pastor gaveRichmond money to go to Ashby flea market and buy a djembe, making him promise to play it in church every Sunday. Richmond has upheld that promise, and still continues to grace audiences with his powerful sense of groove on the djembe and drum set, playing jazz and other styles of music. His brings immense talent, humility and enthusiasm to Orchestra Gold.

Orchestra Gold history

The name, Orchestra Gold, pays homage to the celebrated style of orchestra music developed during Mali’s post-independence golden era (60’s-70’s). On another level, it reflects the fact that although West Africa is well-endowed with the prized mineral gold, its true value is its culture, NOT its material resources. Orchestra Gold began as a collaboration between Malian singer Mariam Diakité and Californian Erich Huffaker. Their partnership developed as they began the boundary-defying work of identifying and reinterpreting ancient folkloric music seldom heard in its authentic entirety. The initial partnership is supplanted by a crew representative of the Bay Area’s music scene.


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