Cassandre Balbar is a performer, an ethnomusicologist and an events organiser.
She started playing the recorder at the age of five and studied early music in Orsay with Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Sébastien Marq, Maud Caille and Jean-François Novelli. Other influential teachers include Jean Tubéry and Patrick Bismuth. She collaborated several years with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, directed by Olivier Schneebeli.
Classically trained, she obtained her Diplôme d'Études Musicales in 2006. After many years of performing early music, she started exploring the world of folk music both through the recorder and the Galician bagpipes which she discovered during one of her many trips to Spain.
Cassandre is an Assistant Professor in Cultural Musicology at KU Leuven, Belgium. Prior to her appointment, she lectured at University of Lincoln, UK, where she was became an Associate Professor in Music in 2022. In 2022, she was also awarded a Chester Dale Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum to carry out the first comprehensive study of their bagpipe collection (2022-23). She completed her PhD in ethnomusicology at SOAS in 2015, focusing on the anthropology of the Mallorcan bagpipes and founded the International Bagpipe Conference series in 2012. In 2016, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Paris-Sorbonne within the GeAcMus programme. Read more about her research.
She is a prolific performer in many different kinds of traditions and her time in London has enabled her to widen her musical knowledge. She regularly performs with bands from different cultural backgrounds including Italy, the UK, France, Sweden, Anatolia and more recently North-West Africa. Her current projects include Världens Band, Amaraterra, Bonnendis, Follow the Rats and Vellamo Quartet. She has performed at many festivals and venues including the Proms, Womad, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Sage, Musicport, Mondomix project, Aan Korb BBC festival, Stockholm Culture Festival, Stockholm Folk festival, Bloomsbury festival, Urkult, Korrö and Southbank busking festival.
Cassandre also organises and curates music events. In 2012, she created the International Bagpipe Organisation and set up the biennal international bagpipe conferences. From 2010 to 2015, she organised the London Balfolk dances. She currently curates the Global Sound Sessions that she founded at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) and organises the monthly Guild Sessions at St Mary's Guildhall in Lincoln with architect James Irvine. She regularly programmes world and folk music for other organisations such as Transported, Zero Degrees Festival and the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre.