From left: World music ensemble Constantinople, with Pierre-Yves Martel (viola da gamba), Patrick Graham (percussion), Kiya Tabassian (setar and voice) and Ablaye Cissoko (kora and voice) are coming to Errington to perform music from their Itinerant Gardens project at Errington hall on May 12. — Michael Slobodian Photo

Musical cultures combine with Constantinople ensemble in Errington

Group brings together Persian, Mandingo Kingdom musical cultures

World music group Constantinople is coming to Errington Hall with a unique sound that brings together the Persian court and the Mandingo Kingdom.

Coming up on May 12, the group will perform music from their Itinerant Gardens project, which began with the idea of pairing the sounds of the setar with that of the kora (a West African harp), said setar player, singer and the group’s artistic directo, Kiya Tabassian.

Constantinople often createssongs based on musical encounters between different musical traditions — in this case those of Persia and the 13th century Mandingo Kingdom of Africa.

“These are two instruments from two very different musical environments, and from two different continents, but I found that these two instruments can really establish a kind of dialect, which brings it much farther than each individual instrument,” said Tabassian.

“That’s what we wanted to achieve, and I think… we are achieving this.”

For the project, Tabassian brought in Ablaye Cissoko, a kora player and singer.

Together with Pierre-Yves Martel on viola da gamba and Patrick Graham on percussion, Itinerant Gardens features often very peaceful music that includes Tabassian singing Persian poems from the 13th and 14th century, as well as Cissoko singing poetry from his own tradition.

An interesting common theme from both musical backgrounds is nature, said Tabassian, and especially water.

But commonalities and differences aren’t the point, said Tabassian. The project is named Itinerant Gardens because, while the individual performers, their musical heritage and their instruments can each be appreciated individually (like elements of a garden), the idea is to create something altogether — a traveling garden of music.

“You have some pieces coming from Mandinka traditions, pieces from Persian traditions, pieces composed by all of us, composed by Ablaye or me. You have the viola da gamba, you have the percussion, all those different elements get together to make a garden,” said Tabassian.

The Constantinople ensemble performs Saturday, May 12 at Errington War Memorial Hall (1390 Errington Rd.) with Jesse Epp opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 or $27.5 online and are available at the Errington General Store, Cranky Dog Music, Heaven on Earth Natural Foods or online at

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