Union Theological Seminary
Thursday, June 15th 7PM
This short solo performance introduces the film “Father Joseph”, heroic man of the Haitian people, and is part of The PARADIGM SHIFTS Festival, which celebrates true stories of courageous people from around the world who are preserving and protecting our planet, oceans, wildlife, and sacred lands. Each event in this series begins with a performance featuring music from the culture explored in the film.
This project is a collaboration between Composers Now and Encompass New Opera Theatre. Composers Now empowers all living composers, celebrates the diversity of their voices and honors the significance of their contributions to the cultural fabric of society. The artistic director is Tania León.
Haiti – then, now, and to come
Musical Prelude to “Father Joseph”
Valerie Naranjo – voice, gong gong, tumba, African marimba
- Lan Mize Pa Dous – Toto Bissainthe (1934-1994)
- Dolosi – trad. Benin
- Tom Kpuleya/Da Wel – trad. West African marimba
- Tierra Pura Movement I, the diana – V. Naranjo/Bernardo Palombo
- Jen Plim Pul – trad. Canto Maison (Eastern Cuba via Haiti)
- Kpanlogo from Tierra Pura – V. Naranjo/B. Palombo
- Kparbinne – trad. West African marimba
- The late Toto Bissainthe is hailed as one of the champions of Haiti’s music abroad. Lan Mize Pa Dous (Misery is not sweet, or often translated “Poverty is not sweet”) is sung in first person by a poor and ailing woman, who is convinced that God was ready to take her.
- Haiti’s traditional spiritual practice and music is influenced by the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, in present day Benin.
- Tom Kpuleya says “The orphan, do not leave that one aside” and speaks later about the merchant woman, who, making her rounds with a traveling “market” (which goes from village to village in a six-day cycle) has no time to do simple things, like washing her clothes. Da Wel, in traditional West African praise music fashion, praises the honored person of the evening. It refers to the hummingbird, who, filling his beak with water in an effort to douse a huge fire, is aided by the universal gods.
- Tierra Pura – the diana In January I had the wonderful experience of meeting the dance/song company “Cutumba” in Santiago de Cuba. The mission of Cutumba is to preserve Haitian influenced music and dance, called Tumba Francesa. I enlisted the expert help from the great composer Bernardo Palombo, to write the lyrics for a multi-movement piece for Cutumba, called Tierra Pura (Pura Land), which I had the honor to perform with Cutumba in Fidanze Festial in April. This opening statement called the diana, is traditionally sung by a soloist and establishes its musical theme.
- Jen Plim Pul – Eastern Cuba is home to a huge community of Haitian people, many of whom sought refuge from the Haitian revolution of 1791. Canto Meson (from the French “Maison”) is one many rhythms in the style called Tumba Francesa, which comes from French Contra Dance. It is sung, in Cuba, in Haitian Creole.
- Every Cuban piece should have an “introduction” which informs the audience of the intention of the performer. In this case, Tierra Pura V – Kpanlogo (a beloved West African popular rhythm) talks about the constitution of “Tierra Pura” (Pure Land), for example:
En Tierra Pura quiero ver la luz La luz radiante del amanecer
En Tierra Pura quiero ver creer Familia y pueblo flor y florecer
En Tierra Pura puedo imaginar Un mundo armando de la luz de amor
En Tierea Pura puedo hacer sonar La clave antigua y el sacra del tambor.
It doesn’t matter who’s the mayor somehow We know his policies are full of flaw
We’re gonna build our village here and now BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BA
So please don’t hurt yourself with government Don’t let it hurt you ‘till it’s your last straw
With all the details how they came and went BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BA
Kparbinne is one of West Africa’s most beloved dances. This one says: “Blind man, don’t drink, or you will never find your way home.
The PARADIGM SHIFTS Festival celebrates true stories of courageous people from around the world who are preserving and protecting our planet, oceans, wildlife, and sacred lands. Each event begins with a performance featuring music from the culture explored in the film. After the screening, a Q&A and reception conclude the evening. This project is a collaboration between Composers Now and Encompass New Opera Theatre.
Composers Now empowers all living composers, celebrates the diversity of their voices and honors the significance of their contributions to the cultural fabric of society. The artistic director is Tania León.
Encompass New Opera Theatre is www.encompassopera.org 718 398 4675 www.composersnow.com