A highlight of the Howard Assembly Room’s Winter 2016 season, the 3 Generations series celebrates the richness of African music across the breadth of the continent from January 30, with performances from Cheikh Lô, Vieux Farka Touré and Mulatu Astatke, plus an African Drumming Workshop for younger visitors.

Now an elder statesman of West African music, Cheikh Lô opens the series with a live set of his unique, eclectic and appropriately pan-African music on Saturday 30 January. Having performed Cuban and Congolese pop songs as well as traditional Burkinabé music in his youth in Burkina Faso, Lô moved to his parents’ native country of Senegal in 1978, where Cameroonian makossa, reggae and mbalax (Senegalese dance music) were added to his rich palette. A later stint as a session musician in Paris included drumming for the legendary Papa Wemba, which brought Congolese soukous into the mix. Lô’s latest album, last year’s Balbalou, has been hailed as a creative peak, showing all of these influences and more, and with his ever-soulful vocals taking centre stage.

There’s more musical alchemy from West Africa on Thursday 4 February with the globe-trotting and genre-bending Malian blues of “Hendrix of the Sahara” Vieux Farka Touré, the son of the late, legendary Ali Farka Touré.  From the blistering electric desert blues for which he is best known, through the acoustic elegance of his 2013 album Mon Pays, to his recent collaboration with US indie singer Julia Easterlin, Vieux has shown the same restless, questing musical spirit as his father.  He will be joined by a bass player and drummer for his Leeds show, moving between searing power trio rock and haunting introspection with astonishing accomplishment.

Most venerable among the inspirational musicians in the season is the founding father of Ethio-jazz, vibraphonist and Éthiopiques legend Mulatu Astatke. His distinctive meshing of the rhythms of his East African homeland with arrangements reminiscent of his friend Duke Ellington can be heard in an extremely rare live performance on Wednesday 10 February. Shot through with Astatke’s music, Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan comedy Broken Flowers is screened in honour of the musician on 26 February.

Finally, on Saturday 12 March an African Drumming Workshop gives young people the chance to learn the basics of African rhythms in an energetic and upbeat session making music and creating beats.

Jo Nockels, Projects Manager, Opera North, comments:

"Presenting fabulous African music has become one of the trademarks of the Howard Assembly Room programme, and we are delighted to focus this season's programme on three such restlessly inventive and influential musicians".

Tickets for all events in the Howard Assembly Room’s Winter 2016 season are on sale now, available from the Box Office on 0844 848 2727 or  


For full season listings, images or artist interviews, please contact:

Rowland Thomas, Press Officer

0113 233 3522 |

Julia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications

0113 223 3526 | julia.o’


MUSIC: Cheikh Lô

In a rare UK appearance from one of the giants and greatest mavericks of West African music. Cheikh Lô fuses his unmistakeably soulful voice with funk, mbalax (a form of Senegalese dance music) and other West African styles.

Saturday 30 January, 7.45pm

Box Office: 0844 848 2727 Online:

Tickets: £17.50


MUSIC: Vieux Farka Touré

The globe-trotting and genre-bending “Hendrix of the Sahara” crafts Malian blues in the rich Songhai tradition of his late father, Ali Farka Touré. In this live performance with his Trio, expect astonishing feats of speed and dexterity on the guitar - and bags of charisma.

Thursday 4 February, 7.45pm

Box Office: 0844 848 2727 Online:

Tickets: £17.50


MUSIC: Mulatu Astatke

Founding father of Ethio-jazz, the revered vibraphonist and Éthiopiques legend pays an extremely rare visit to Leeds. With his own band of brilliant players, he reveals that at 70, he is still ever-inventive, visionary and a master of his form.

Wednesday 10 February, 7.45pm

Box Office: 0844 848 2727 Online:

Tickets: £20.00

FILM: Broken Flowers

Director Jim Jarmusch's minimalist storytelling finds a perfect match in Bill Murray's understated portrayal of jilted lover Don, creating a warm, quirky comedy that is both deadpan and heart-lifting. Shown in honour of the visit of Mulatu Astatke (10 February), whose music threads through the film’s wonderful soundtrack.

Friday 26 February, 7.45pm

Box Office: 0844 848 2727 Online:

Tickets: £5.00


WORKSHOP: African Drumming

Catch a rhythm and learn the basics to African drumming. Join us for an energetic and upbeat workshop making music and creating rhythms.

Saturday 12 March, 10.30am – 12.30pm

Box Office: 0844 848 2727 Online:

Tickets: Adults £5 / children (18 and under) Free


Notes to editors:

Howard Assembly Room

The Howard Assembly Room is a captivating, inspiring performance venue loved equally by performers and guests for its blend of Victorian and contemporary styling. The venue plays an important role in fuelling the Yorkshire cultural scene with a varied programme of events, gigs, films, talks and family workshops.

The 300-capacity central Leeds venue is a fitting host to receive Opera North’s rich and varied performance programming. The Howard Assembly Room has welcomed thousands of guests to hundreds of ticketed events, and has firmly established itself as one of Yorkshire’s most important centres for progressive and diverse musical performances since opening in 2009. Finally, the venue serves as vital rehearsal space for Opera North’s award winning Orchestra.


The Howard Assembly Room is generously supported by The Emerald Foundation.



Howard Assembly Room

Entrance via Leeds Grand Theatre

42-46 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6N

Box office: 0844 848 2727



Opera North and Opera North Projects


Opera North is England’s national opera company in the North and one of Europe’s leading arts organisations. Opera North is a vibrant, lively organisation which actively challenges conventional perceptions of opera. Breathing new life into the classics, the Company is also a strong advocate of lesser-known works and a champion of musical theatre.


The work of Opera North Projects crosses conventional boundaries, bringing classical and contemporary arts together in an eclectic year-round programme of performance, visual arts commissions, literary events and artistic development. Projects take apart the elements of opera: words, music, visual arts and theatre, and put them back together in new ways.


Opera North Projects produces small-scale touring shows, site specific performance and commissions, together with a rolling programme of artistic residencies. ‘Home’ is the beautifully restored Howard Assembly Room in Leeds, a captivating and flexible performance space whose public programme is curated by the Projects Department.


Work often has an emphasis on collaboration, with recent partners including The Royal Shakespeare Company, the Manchester International Festival, Kneehigh Theatre, The Opera Group and The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.