Boubakiki is a duo of saxophone (Joe Steele) and handpan (Rosie Bergonzi) formed in 2017, having met whilst undertaking a traineeship in music leading with award-winning arts charity Spitalfields Music. For their unusual combination of instruments, Joe and Rosie mostly play material which they have devised themselves through improvisation and collaborative composition. Utilising the full colour palette of their unique soundworld, Boubakiki create highly varied music: from atmospheric, serene textures to upbeat earworms, drawing influence from classical, jazz, folk and non-Western musical traditions. In January 2018 Boubakiki released their self-titled debut EP (available on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music), consisting of four new pieces which use the DB F minor handpan. More recently they have been exploring new directions with the use of the Rav Vast D major handpan and creating innovative arrangements of existing pieces, which both complement and contrast with their own material. Boubakiki are passionate about bringing music to everyone and therefore see workshops and participatory concerts as an essential part of their practice.
Joe Steele is a composer, saxophonist and music leader based in London. He holds a BA in Music from the University of York, awarded with first-class honours, and an MA in Opera Making & Writing (Composition) from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, awarded with Distinction. As a composer Joe’s music often explores the intersection of music and drama and has performed in leading venues such as St. John’s, Smith Square, Saffron Hall and the Bridewell Theatre (Blackfriars), and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His comic chamber opera, WATCH ME (2016), written as part of his MA, was described as being “Wonderful: like a humorous dream.” (The Times). Having completed a year-long traineeship in music leading with Spitalfields Music from 2016-17, Joe is now highly active in the field of community music, working regularly with the English National Opera Baylis programme, and has previously worked on projects with the London Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. One of Joe’s increasing specialisms is in work with refugees and asylum seekers; he works regularly with Music Action International and the British Red Cross on several projects including Everyday People, an ensemble for young refugees which in 2017 collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a BBC Radio 3 broadcast. He is also a volunteer leader and saxophonist with Woven Gold a choir for refugees and asylum seekers run by the Helen Bamber Foundation. Outside of Boubakiki Joe performs with Ugandan singer-songwriter Asingjay, playing a mixture of original and traditional African music.
Rosie Bergonzi is a graduate of The Guildhall School of Music & Drama, having completed her masters in Advanced Instrumental Study in 2016 and being awarded a Fellowship in Percussion until 2017. She studied at Goldsmiths, University of London for her BMus, awarded in 2014 with First Class Honours. Her studies were generously funded by the Nick Jack Award and the Hilda Martindale Foundation. She is now an active musician with notable performances including a tour of Brazil with Neneh Cherry (2018); BBC Prom with the Chineke! Orchestra (2017); Musical Rumpus, an interactive opera for toddlers (2017); a sell-out performance of Drumming performed to Steve Reich himself (2016); a solo set in the Barbican’s Sound Unbound Festival (2015) and winning the Goldsmiths Concerto contest (2014) allowing her to perform as soloist in the Ney Rosaruo Vibraphone Concerto (2015).
Rosie is a founding member the all-female percussion quartet Beaten Track Ensemble. She has recently returned from a European Tour of Fogonogo, produced by Spitalfields Music. An immersive opera for under-3’s, it played across Europe including Denmark’s GropOp Festival.
In addition to performing, Rosie is passionate about creating music in community settings. She leads and facilitates workshops including collaborative song-writing and devised instrumental pieces and presenting sharings. She has recently worked with English National Opera, Spitalfields Music, Wigmore Hall and the Chineke! Foundation to deliver music sessions to groups across the UK.