Reinventing Global Sounds, Throwing Away the Rulebook.
Kabantu is a collective from Manchester who unravel new marriages of music from around the globe to celebrate the space where different cultures collaborate.
“Kabantu” means “of the people” – stemming from the South African philosophy of Ubuntu – “I am what I am because of who we all are”. This is autonomous music bridging countries and cultures. An egalitarian, creative process to defy genre and embrace sheer joy in music from all over the globe.
Highlights so far include performing at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, live sessions for BBC Free Thinking Festival, BBC Radio 3 In Tune, World on 3, a TedX Talk to a sold-out Bridgewater Hall and an array of prestigious festivals and venues across the UK including Cadogan Hall, The Sage Gateshead, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Orkney Folk Festival, Aldeburgh Music, Celtic Connections, Musicport, Spitalfields Festival and Cambridge Folk Festival.
Kabantu were the winners of the Royal Over-Seas League Competition 2017 Mixed Ensemble Prize.
In 2018 Kabantu released their debut album Of the People to critical acclaim, produced by Mercury-nominated Gerry Diver and supported by the Hattori Foundation and the PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Music Creators.
2019 saw Kabantu collaborate creatively with the BBC Singers and tour England and Wales with Welsh orchestra Sinfonia Cymru. They also toured Switzerland and even featured as guest artist in Yolanda Brown’s brand-new show for CBeebies.
Kabantu were Folk Alliance International Official Artists 2019, Selected Making Music Artists 2016-17, Live Music Now, Hattori Foundation and BBC Introducing Artists.
Katie Foster – violin
Edinburgh-born Katie began learning the violin aged seven and in 2004 won a place at St. Mary’s Music School. She moved to Manchester in 2011 to begin her undergraduate degree at the Royal Northern College of Music where she graduated in 2015.
Katie’s keen interest in folk and jazz music, as well as classical repertoire has allowed her a multitude of incredible performance experiences including: semi-finalist of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, recitals in Wigmore Hall and orchestral tours to Italy, Ireland, Holland, Poland, Germany and China.
A regular orchestral player, Katie has been Principal Violin of the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, Edinburgh Incidental Orchestra and Camerata Scotland, as well as working with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Manchester Camerata.
Ali McMath – double bass
Alastair McMath graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music with a Bachelor of Music Degree (HONS) where he studied double bass with Jiri Hudec, Principal of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
Beginning his musical life at five, Alastair played piano and organ as well as bass and was a chorister at Manchester Cathedral. After eight years as a pupil at Chetham’s School of Music, he moved to the RNCM, with a full scholarship, and in his fourth year won the Eugene Croft Prize for Double Bass and the Diane Bolton Salon Prize.
He has been a member (and principal) of the National Children’s Orchestras, Hallé Youth, National Youth Orchestra and Chetham’s and RNCM Orchestras and Big Bands. With these Alastair has toured in France, Italy and Malta, and played under internationally acclaimed conductors such as Semyon Bychkov and Sir Mark Elder. He has also played with the Chilingirian String Quartet at the Lake District International Summer Music Festival.
Alastair’s experiences cross many genres; he enjoys playing with a 1920s Jazz Band, has done Christmas Panto and Musical Theatre (playing with Sweet Charity [Royal Exchange, Manchester] and the UK tour of Ghost the Musical). As a freelance double bassist and bass guitarist, he’s also accompanied ballet (Northern Ballet Company) and opera, and played with function bands and jazz ensembles.
Besides music, Alastair enjoys reading, walking and watching films, and alongside the bass, loves experimenting with other instruments such as the didgeridoo, banjo, melodica and mouth organ.
Ben Sayah – guitar
Ben Sayah began to discover his passion for music from a very young age in France, where he was born and grew up. From as young as six months, Ben would sit in his cot and click his fingers, imitating his Granddad. Bizarrely, as a toddler, Ben would go into his room and play while TV shows were on, running back to the living room when the adverts came on, captivated by the jingles. He would then, rather embarrassingly, recite the songs of each product he recognised in the supermarket.
Ben moved to the UK at the age of 5 and soon found himself singing in the primary school choir. It wasn’t until Ben went on to secondary school that he started playing guitar, having been denied his first request to get a drum kit. Ben recalls buying Total Guitar magazine religiously every month for about 5 years, learning the songs that had been transcribed and often turning down socialising in favour of obsessing over the guitar in his room.
At age 13, Ben’s grandparents took him to see Tommy Emmanuel live in Southport. Tommy Emmanuel instantly became Ben’s biggest inspiration as a guitarist. At the age of 15, Ben realised that music is what he wanted to commit his life to. In order to go on to study music at university, he had just 3 years to begin and complete his classical guitar grades with ABRSM. Ben achieved Grade 8 with distinction just in time to apply for university.
Ben studied music at Salford, where his main focus was jazz and improvisation, ensemble playing and composition and arranging. During his time at Salford university, Ben became a huge fan of progressive rock and formed the progressive rock band, Scarlet Castles. He finished his degree with the highest performance mark of the year, achieving the Johnny Marr Performance Award.
After university, Ben spent a year overwhelmed and confused by the music industry. Gigging was not bringing in the money that Ben had hoped for and it was at this point that Ben began busking in Manchester. Ben was spotted by Kabantu percussionist, Delia Stevens, while he was busking a Tommy Emmanuel song that had amazed him just 9 years earlier.
Delia Stevens – percussion
Originally from Leicestershire, Delia began playing percussion at the age of ten, going on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Graduating with a First-Class Honours, her versatility as a musician has allowed her to appear as a soloist, chamber, session and orchestral musician on platforms around the world.
As a teenager, Delia reached the televised category finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year twice in 2008 and 10 and then later won the RNCM Gold Medal and Concerto Competitions. This has since led to several highlights including a world première live on Radio 3 in the BBC Proms, concertos with the Beethoven Academy Orchestra in the Krakow Proms and her Wigmore debut.
With a keen interest in chamber music, Delia is the co-founder of the Aurora Percussion Duo, winning the 2012 Royal Over-Seas League and Park Lane Group Competitions, subsequently performing in the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and Queen Elizabeth Hall. The duo has also performed at the Edinburgh Festival, BBC Radio 3 Late Junction and the Bridgewater Hall as well as touring the UK and China several times.
As an orchestral musician Delia has played with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, London Sinfonietta, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Hallé. She is currently an extra for the BBC Philharmonic.
Delia champions outreach work, particularly through Live Music Now, where she delivers interactive concerts to special needs audiences, as well as the elderly and in pupil referral units. She recently enjoyed a year’s residency on the Oncology Unit in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
She also enjoys the challenge of performing in contemporary classical ensembles including ‘Almost Credible Music’, ‘Dark Inventions’ and ‘House of Bedlam’ and collaborations with pop artists including indie-band Daughter, Rae Morris, James, Gaz Coombes (Supergrass), Tim Burgess (New Order) and Cathal Mo Chroi (Chas Smash) from ‘Madness’ within the Joe Duddell Ensemble, performing at Festival No. 6 and Somerset House.
Kabantu has a Website