After a decade of performance and research of Haitian art music, New York City-based cellist Diana Golden releases Tanbou Kache (Hidden Drum), an album that celebrates Haiti’s rich and fascinating traditions and outlines the stylistic and chronological trajectory of key composers within this tradition from the 20th century to the present. Recorded with pianist Shawn Chang, the recording highlights Haitian cello and piano music by Julio Racine, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Jean “Rudy” Perrault, Justin Élie, Werner Jaegerhuber, Frantz Casséus, and Carmen Brouard.
Petite SuiteWerner Jaegerhuber
|05||IV. Tema contrapunctistica|
IV. Tema contrapunctistica
Suite haïtienneFrantz Casséus
Sonate à CynthiaJulio Racine
|11||I. Allegro Spirito|
I. Allegro Spirito
|14||Femiel from One Loss Plus|
Femiel from One Loss Plus
Cellist Diana Golden releases Tanbou Kache, an album celebrating Haiti’s rich and fascinating art music traditions. Tanbou Kache (Hidden Drum) outlines the stylistic and chronological trajectory of key composers within this tradition from the 20th century to the present. Recorded with pianist Shawn Chang, the album highlights cello and piano music by Jean “Rudy” Perrault, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Julio Racine, Carmen Brouard, Frantz Casséus, Werner Jaegerhuber, and Justin Élie.
In 2011, Golden began working for a music center for Boston’s Haitian community, teaching cello students who had left Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. This experience inspired her nearly decade-long interest in Haitian art music. She taught in Jacmel, Haiti during the summer of 2012, and devoted her doctoral research at Rutgers University to the history of Haitian art music.
Golden says, “Haiti has had a rich and fascinating tradition of art music creation for hundreds of years. We hope that this album will further accessibility to this unique and fascinating repertoire, enabling exploration and enjoyment of it by scholars, performers, and listeners alike.”
Through his work with publisher Carl Fischer and concert tours of Haiti and the Caribbean, pianist and composer Justin Élie (1883 – 1931) became one of the most renowned Haitian musicians of his time. His use of indigenous Arawak themes and Haitian folk music showed his embrace of non-European musical aesthetics in crafting an authentic Haitian compositional voice. When Élie moved to New York City in 1922, he tapped into American audiences’ interest in the exotic and evoked impressions of Haitian landscapes with works such as Légende créole, based on the Haitian children’s song “Zonbi bann mannan.”
Composer Werner Jaegerhuber (1900 – 1953) left Haiti for Germany as the U.S. occupation of Haiti began in 1915, but then returned to Haiti in 1937 to avoid persecution in Germany. His vast legacy includes inspiring ethnographers and ethnomusicologists by his transcriptions of Haitian folk melodies, becoming the first to study the musical structure and lyrics of Vodou songs, spurring a wave of Haitian chamber music compositions in the 1950s, mentoring the next generation of Haitian composers, and destigmatizing traditional Vodou songs by incorporating them into instrumental art music. Though many of his other compositions are folkloric or Neoclassical in style, Jaegerhuber’s Petite Suite in C minor is among his baroque-influenced compositions.
A renowned classical guitarist in the last third of the 20th century, Frantz Casséus (1915 – 1993) sought to show Haitian musical style through his compositions and performances as well as incorporating influences from Caribbean, jazz, and European classical music. In Suite haïtienne, Casséus’ invented melodies include “Fi nan bwa” and “Mèsi bon Dye,” which became a hit through its interpretation by Harry Belafonte accompanied by Casséus himself. The piece uses the cinquillo rhythm emblematic of the Haitian méringue.
A pianist, pedagogue, and leading composer of the Haitian diaspora, Carmen Brouard (1909 – 2005) Brouard helped found the Montreal archive Société de recherche et de diffusion de la musique haïtienne for the promotion and study of Haitian music. Brouard’s music is Romantic, folkloric, and rhythmic. In Duo Sentimental, clashing episodic sections portray the composer’s various cultural influences, from quintessentially Haitian pentatonic scales to the opening theme’s twelve-tone row hidden by tonal harmonizations. By the end of the piece, these elements are combined harmoniously, showing Brouard’s embrace of her own divergent cultural traditions.
Conductor, composer, and flutist Julio Racine (b. 1945) and co-author Karine Margron published their anthology of Haitian folk songs in 2013 to document and share the heritage of Haitian music with future generations. Racine’s music is characterized by the development of Vodou rhythms, modal scales, and syncopated, jazzy harmonies and dissonances. Racine is twice represented on this album, with Casséus’ Suite haïtienne which Racine arranged for cello and piano, and his Sonate à Cynthia pour violoncelle et piano, a work inspired by imagining the choreography of local folk dancers.
Violinist, educator, composer, and social activist Daniel Bernard Roumain (b. 1970) is an Institute Professor of Practice at Arizona State University. Roumain’s compositions draw inspiration from civil rights themes and musical influences of hip hop, jazz, folk, Caribbean, and electronic music. He is also known for his large-scale music events in public spaces, including One Loss Plus, a meditative, multimedia work for violin, piano, electronics, and video from which Femiel derives.
Composer and violinist Jean “Rudy” Perrault (b. 1961) often finds inspiration in contemporary humanist movements. His Brother Malcolm... paraphrases an imaginary conversation between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X on Barack Obama's inauguration to the presidency. Still Around paraphrases Ruth Schmidt-Bauemler’s poem by the same name, as the order of pitches in the theme corresponds to their names: R-Ut-H, S-C-H, etc. The cryptogram is a nod to the spirit of the works on this CD, which all incorporate a subtly hidden Haitian dimension.
-- Claude Dauphin and Diana Golden
Editing, mixing, and mastering: Ryan Streber
Producer: Diana Golden
Studio Producer: Gregory K. Williams
Packaging design: Jessica Slaven
“Celebration” artwork: Gina Samson (media acrylic and mixed media collage on board)
Liner notes: Claude Dauphin
Translation: Adele Golden
Editing: Céline Boulben, Adele Golden (French); Rebecca Wallen, Diana Golden (English)
Photography: Pierre Lidar