Derek Gripper is a guitarist from Cape Town, South Africa. He is known worldwide for his stunning renditions of the complex music of Toumani Diabaté, the famous Malian Kora player.


In addition to his classical training, he incorporates his West African influences into his interpretations of J.S. Bach and demonstrates a virtuoso technique through this blend. Through his many world tours, Derek Gripper has had the opportunity to play alongside Toumani in his Symmetric Orchestra, as well as with John Williams, the famous classical guitarist. 


Following his adaptations of Toumani Diabaté’s One Night on Earth (2011) and Librairies on Fire (2016), Gripper has dedicated himself to creating original pieces on the theme of extended cyclical structures. 


In establishing this project, the guitarist draws as much inspiration from the oral and improvised traditions of African griots as from the South African cyclical traditions known as Koortjie; ultimately deploying the harmonic, expressive and intimate potential of his acoustic guitar. 


On his most recent albums, “A Year of Swimming” (2020) and “Billy Goes to Durban,” (2021), the artist juggles a series of compositions, spontaneous improvisations, and performances of works by great composers such as J.S. Bach, Arvo Pärt, Salif Keita, Fanta Sacko and Baaba Ma.


Derek Gripper’s ambition is to bring together these distant and heterogeneous musical traditions through a rediscovery of the guitar, and thus offer a unique experience for all audiences.

South Africa
Festival international Nuits d'Afrique - 36e