Press: Maynardville Open-Air Festival extends its classical repertoire with a one-night only performance by guitarist Derek Gripper

February 23, 2018


Derek Gripper returns from an eight city tour of North America to play a single night at Maynardville on 25 February 2018. His unique translations of West African music have earned him high praise in all corners of the music world. With invitations to Mali to perform with kora virtuoso Toumani Diabate and offers to perform yearly concerts with classical guitar legend John Williams, and almost monthly tours of North America, Europe and Asia, both solo and in collaboration with musicians such as North Indian slide guitar master Debashish Battacharya.


Derek’s most recent recording, Libraries on Fire was followed by a recording of the solo violin works of Bach, interpreted according to West African traditions and creating a rich conversation between classical traditions East and West, North and South.


After recording nine albums of original material, Derek Gripper spent untold hours of painstaking work to transcribe note-for-note the complex compositions of Malian kora virtuoso Toumani Diabate and find a way of playing them on classical six-string guitar. The results appeared on his 2012 album, One Night on Earth, marking a meeting point of the written tradition of Western classical music and the oral tradition of the West African griots, and catapulting Derek onto the world stage. His follow up album, Libraries on Fire in 2015 won a Songlines Award for Best Album from Africa and the Middle East and was followed by a Carnegie Hall debut in 2015. Derek is one of South Africa’s top international touring artists, even more remarkable because he does this as a solo musician, playing venues like The Royal Albert Hall, Lincoln Centre, Kennedy Centre, Royal Concert Glasgow, Shakespeare’s Globe, some of the world’s top music festivals in Sweden, UK, and the USA.

To listen to Derek’s ability to converse between disparate traditions, and to allow each to enrich the other, is to witness the barriers of genre and culture dissolve into new music which is fresh and engaging. His music has been described as:


“a staggering achievement on solo guitar.”

Songlines Magazine


“...opening a whole new repertoire of classical guitar music.”

Evening Standard


“It’s hard to imagine a more impressive and passionate rendering of Malian music on classical guitar.”

Afropop Worldwide


Derek Gripper @ Maynardville is produced by Janni Younge Productions and Derek Gripper, in association the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre Trust and Liquidmatch Productions, and supported by Artscape Theatre Centre.


The show takes place one night only on Sunday 25 February at 19:45 with tickets costing R150 to R180 through Computicket and Artscape on 021 421 7695. Find out more at


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