Caballito Negro – “The Timbuktu Manuscripts” @ Oregon Fringe Festival, Ashland OR

Caballito Negro is thrilled to finally perform the premiere of this work, which was commissioned from the ever-innovative US/Australian composer, Erik Griswold. There will be 3 performances in the Rotunda on the same day: 2:30PM, 3:00PM and 3:30PM.

The Timbuktu Manuscripts was inspired by the vast archive of historical manuscripts that document a golden era of Malian culture, when, between the 13th and 17th centuries, Timbuktu was a major centre of wealth and Islamic scholarship. Writers such as Ahmed Baba covered a wide range of religious, scientific and other topics, which often placed particular emphasis on peace, tolerance and conflict resolution, for which Mali has become known. In 2012 Islamist (Tuareg) rebels took over Timbuktu, putting the fragile manuscripts at grave risk. Many citizens hid the manuscripts in the walls of their houses. A coalition of library officials, bus drivers, taxi drivers, and canoers, lead by Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, dramatically smuggled them through dangerous checkpoints to safety in Bamako.

Griswold has woven together fragments of this story with fragments of translated text from the Timbuktu Manuscripts, quoting historic scholar Ahmed Baba, and scholar-traveller Leo Africanus. Timbuktu’s instrumentation includes multiple flutes, voice, multiple percussion including water phone, ghatam, frame drum and prepared vibraphone, offering a vibrant mysterious tonality to this beautiful story set in Mali.