The ensemble Constantinople was formed by two brothers. Kiya Tabassian sings and plays the four-stringed setar, a long necked lute originally from Persia. Kiya's brother Ziya Tabassian plays the Persian tombak drum and assorted percussion.
Originally from Iran, the Tabassians relocated to Montreal in 1990 where they recruited Pierre-Yves Martel who excels on the viola da gamba. Over the years, the ensemble has collaborated with many different artists, playing a repertoire that includes music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
However, on their most recent album called 'Jardins Migrateurs' they are joined by Senegalese kora player, singer and composer Ablaye Cissoko who hails from a long line of Mandinka griots. The kora has been passed down from father to son in Ablaye's family since the 13th century!
The musicians met when Kiya conceived an idea to collaborate with a kora player for a new album and after hearing one of Ablaye's albums reached out to him. Within a few months Ablaye arrived in Montreal to begin work on their album. It’s a repertoire where music from the Persian court seamlessly mixes with West African elements to produce a graceful simplicity.
Constantinople and Ablaye Cissoko played two incredibly well-received shows over the Womad weekend and their concert on the Dell stage on Saturday 17 March was, for many in the audience, one of the musical discoveries of the weekend.
Just spectacular music and exceptional musicianship.
Constantinople and Ableye Cissoko were recorded and produced by Darryl Stack for RNZ Music.
Titles: 'A L'écoute du Moro' (K Tabassian), 'Soutouo' (Cissoko), 'Poisson au fond de l'océan' (K Tabassian, Cissoko), 'Ahouye Vashi '(K. Tabassian),' Lountang' (Cissoko), 'Le Pas de l'eau' (K. Tabassian), 'Fleuve' (Cissoko), 'Traversées' (Cissoko, K. Tabassian), 'Before The Rain' (Cissoko, K. Tabassian), 'Parvaz' (K. Tabassian), 'Diminiutia' (Pierre Yves Martel)