EMU to host 2022 Gala Concert with international artist, Balla Kouyaté

2022 EMU Music Gala Concert
2022 EMU Music Gala Concert(WHSV)
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 11:35 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Eastern Mennonite University’s (EMU) annual Music Gala is on Friday. Along with performances from the choir and orchestra, two world-renowned musicians will perform.

The theme for this year is truth and light.

“The first half of the concert will have a big orchestral work choir called the passion of Martin Luther King and which is a title derived from types of pieces Bach would write called passions. It sort of focuses on Martin Luther King’s message and the events leading up to his assassination,” David Berry, director of the music program at EMU, explained.

The event will also bring together students and international artist Balla Kouyaté.

Originally from Mali, Kouyaté has toured Africa Europe the U.S. and around the world playing an instrument that has been in his family for more than 800 years, the balafon.

“Balla playing Bala,” Kouyaté said. “I love this more than anything.”

His music will be paired with university ensembles and singer Tapani Demba. The musicians say working with students and bringing this sound to new places goes beyond a concert but is also a teaching moment.

“They learn things from us as we learn from our parents. I think this is the best thing we have to do, to teach kids how to learn the culture,” Demba said.

“So we are not just entertainers or performers we are the keeper of the history, of our people, in our society and our community,” Kouyaté said.

“For a lot of our students, this is really a transformational experience. A lot of our students have never played in a show like this with artists of this caliber, world-class artists. Our students who have never done that you know it is a new experience for them,” Berry added.

This will not be a show to sit still in your seat.

“We are going to make everybody dance,” Kouyaté explained. “Pretty soon it is going to be pretty cold, before we get too cold, I want to see everyone sweating.”

For more information on the show or to buy tickets, click here. The show will also be streamed on EMU’s Facebook page.

To learn more about Balla Kouyaté, click here.