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Smithsonian Folkways Concert – Sound Communities Series Launch Showcase

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From Mi’kmaw fiddle to Ukrainian-Canadian bandura, celebrate a diverse range of the music of Canada in one joyful evening.

Friday, October 20, 2023
7:30 to 10 p.m.

Celebrate the launch of the Sound Communities recording series with a night of enthralling musical performances. Musicians will fiddle, drum, tap and sing traditional and contemporary musical expressions. This energetic showcase will connect you to the many facets of Canadian identity through distinctive sounds and rhythms.

The Centre for Sound Communities at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in Washington D.C., present this exciting cross-border initiative that supports and documents music in Canada. The series highlights musicians and spoken-word artists from diverse communities — Indigenous peoples, settler groups and newcomers to Canada — who honour their musical traditions while adapting them to create new and unique art forms.

The evening will feature a cash bar and light snacks. Exhibitions in the Grand Hall will be open to the public.

Featuring performances by:

  • Sons of Membertou, with Morgan Toney (Mi’kmaw drummers and fiddler)
  • Julian Kytasty, with Chester Delaney and Elyse Delaney (bandura, and Acadian fiddle and song)
  • Lassana Diabaté, with Afua Cooper (balafon and spoken-word collaboration)


Artist Biographies

Sons of Membertou

A group of eleven people

Credit: Barry Bernard

The Mi’kmaw people have inhabited Mi’kma’ki for centuries, peacefully harvesting the land and ocean’s offerings. Sons of Membertou is a traditional group that performs Mi’kmaw music. In 1992, Elders gifted a drum to Darrell and Sharon Bernard, asking them to return it to their community. With the guidance of numerous Elders, they recorded some of George Paul’s songs. The group now performs throughout Canada and Europe, preserving their culture and language by sharing their music with young people and recruiting new members. Msit no’kmaq!

Morgan Toney

A man

Credit: Morgan Toney

Morgan Toney is a talented Mi’kmaw fiddler and singer who combines Cape Breton Island’s spirited fiddling with traditional Mi’kmaw songs to create the Mi’kmaltic genre. His debut album, First Flight, blends classic melodies with fresh compositions that touch on current issues, such as missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada. Toney hopes to inspire positive change through his music and believes that everyone should stand up against racism. He’s passionate about preserving the Mi’kmaw language and is grateful to the Elders who taught him. At his concerts, Mi’kmaq and Cape Bretoners come together to celebrate their shared culture.

Julian Kytasty

A man

Credit: Julian Kytasty with Bandura, courtesy Celtic Colours International Festival, 2015.

Julian Kytasty is one of the world’s premier bandura players and the instrument’s leading North American exponent. As a performer, recording artist, composer and ensemble leader, he has released several albums and redefined the possibilities of his instrument. Kytasty has also composed music for theatre, modern dance and film, including an award-winning film score for the National Film Board of Canada feature documentary My Mother’s Village. In September 2022, he was awarded the title of Honoured Artist of Ukraine.

Chester Delaney and Elyse Delaney

A man

Credit: Chester Delaney

A woman

Credit: Elyse Delaney

Chester Delaney is a well-known Acadian fiddler with a unique playing style. He has performed at countless parties and gatherings for decades, often accompanied by other musicians. In the late 1970s, he formed a close-knit musical trio with Gerard Romard and Albert Poirier. They played at various venues, including festivals, benefit dances and live broadcasts. The trio also served as the main house band for the weekly Talent Night at The Doryman. His fiddle playing is always a favourite among audiences — especially those who enjoy traditional material.

Elyse Delaney is a talented singer, actress and step dancer from Saint Joseph du Moine, Nova Scotia. She has performed at school concerts, benefits and productions, including the opening ceremony of the 2011 Canada Games and the 75th anniversary of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. She has shared the stage with renowned Cape Breton musicians and performed in symphony programs. She was selected for the World Youth Choir in 2017 and represented Canada again in 2020.

Mamadou Koita

A man

Credit: Mamadou Koita

Balafonist, percussionist (djembe, doundoun, bara, tama), n’goni player (traditional African instrument similar to the guitar or the harp), singer and songwriter, Mamadou Koita is a virtuoso musician from Burkina Faso. He was born and raised in the musical universe of the griots of the Bwaba ethnic group. From an early age, he learned to play the balafon with his father, who was himself a manufacturer and a great balafon player. At a very young age, he joined the latter’s troupe, then joined the Sinignassigui group in Ouagadougou. Mamadou has participated in multiple festivals and events in Burkina Faso, Africa, France, Canada and throughout Quebec. He now dedicates himself to transmitting his passion to both children and adults.

Afua Cooper

A woman

Credit: Dalhousie University

Dr. Afua Cooper is a respected scholar, historian, poet, and social and cultural commentator. She works with organizations worldwide to promote diversity, equity and inclusion and to combat racism. She has been recognized for her contributions, including being named one of the 25 women shaping the world by Essence magazine. She holds a PhD in Black Canadian History and African Diaspora Studies and is an accomplished author. She curated eight exhibits and was awarded a $1 million grant to direct the project A Black People’s History of Canada. Dr. Cooper is a full professor at Dalhousie University and holds a Killam Research Chair.


Presented by

Logo - Smithsonian Folk Ways Recordings Logo - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Logo - Cape Breton University
Logo - Cultures of Sound Network Logo - Centre for Sound Communities - sound, movement, performance

Photo at top of page:
Canadian Museum of History (IMG2019-0328-0189-Dm)


Dates & Times
English French
Friday, October 20, 2023
7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.