First female kora virtuoso Sona Jobarteh and her band to perform in Hong Kong (with photos)

     Gambia's Sona Jobarteh, the first female kora virtuoso, will perform in Hong Kong with her band on November 9 and 10. Enchanting both as an instrumentalist and a singer and with a trademark style that beautifully blends Western music with traditional African sounds, Jobarteh will tell the story of the Manding people down the ages in the concerts to soulfully touch the heart.

     Jobarteh's talent and dedication have helped her to become the first female kora virtuoso, breaking seven centuries of male-dominated hereditary tradition in West Africa. A composer, producer and musician rolled into one, Jobarteh is one of the brightest lights in the world music scene today. The Guardian in the UK said Jobarteh "has all the makings of an international star".

     Jobarteh was born into one of the five principal griot families in West Africa. Her family has included many celebrities over the generations. Born in London, Jobarteh started to learn the kora at the age of 4 from her brother. She went on to study the cello, piano, harpsichord and composition at the Royal College of Music and the Purcell School for Young Musicians in the UK. Later, she joined her brother's African Classical Music Ensemble and toured the world, sharing stages with renowned kora player Toumani Diabaté and with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

     The griots of West Africa are hereditary musicians who historically served at court while also taking on roles as historians, advisors to royal families, praise singers and poets. The griot tradition can be traced back to the 13th century Manding Empire. A kora is made from a large calabash (bottle gourd) that has been cut in half, cow skin, a hardwood neck and 21 strings. The musician plucks the strings with the thumb and index finger of both hands, producing clear and melodious polyrhythmic music. The instrument has a major place in West Africa's cultural heritage and is mostly played by griots.

     The kora concerts by Sona Jobarteh and her band are among the programmes of the World Cultures Festival 2017 - Vibrant Africa. The concerts, performed in Mandinka, will be held at 8pm on November 9 and 10 at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. Tickets priced at $160, $220 and $280 are now available at URBTIX ( For credit card telephone bookings, please call 2111 5999.

     Organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the World Cultures Festival 2017 - Vibrant Africa is running from October 20 to November 19. For programme enquiries and concessionary schemes, please call 2370 1044 or visit

Ends/Thursday, November 2, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:15