Solo Acoustic Guitarist, Composer, Arranger and Performer, Derek Gripper began his formal musical training at the age of six on the violin. After studying classical music in Cape Town for the next thirteen years he began to look further afield for musical inspiration. This search took him to India where he studied South Indian Carnatic music. On his return home he began to focus on the guitar, trying to find a new direction for the instrument.
One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali, recorded late in 2012 magically conjures anew a centuries-old ancient African musical heritage, interpreting kora compositions (21 string “mandinga” harp) on solo guitar, a feat which classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it.”
The UK’s top world music publication, Songlines, called One Night on Earth ”a staggering achievement,” and selected the recording as a Top of the World album in 2013. Derek’s “guitar has found the Kora-playing spirit, he captures the magic bound up in the way it is played”, says Williams, who invited Derek back a second time to collaborate in “The John Williams Series” at London’s Globe Theatre in June 2015 where the two musicians performed duets based on Diabate’s kora works. In 2016 Derek Gripper released his last critically acclaimed album, Libraries on Fire.
“Five stars…Gripper has brilliantly transferred [the kora] repertoire onto a regular six string guitar. He sees [Toumani] Diabaté as the Segovia, or indeed John Williams, of the kora, championing it as a solo instrument. And Gripper brilliantly takes it back to the guitar. He’s opening a whole new repertoire of classical guitar music…bringing African guitar into the classical mainstream.”
Simon Broughton in Evening Standard
“Gripper has cracked it…his playing has a depthless beauty, which does full justice to the complexity of Toumani’s compositions. To do so without any hint of the music being dumbed down is a staggering achievement on solo guitar.”
Nigel Williamson in Songlines.