A Moment Full of Joy and Humor
“On October 29, 2007, Senator Barack Obama appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Every guest of the show is invited to dance with DeGeneres, and as Obama made his way downstage to meet her, she met him halfway, and together, they danced.”
And so, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) introduces his work Dancers, Dreamers and Presidents, which will be performed by the Nashville Symphony on February 23rd – 25th, conducted by associate conductor Kelly Corcoran. Commissioned by the Sphinx Organization Commissioning Consortium, Dancers, Dreamers and Presidents received its world premiere by the New World Symphony in September 2010; and, as a Sphinx Consortium partner, Nashville Symphony now presents its first performances of the work.
“Dancers, Dreamers and Presidents [was] inspired by [that] 21-second dance,” DBR explains. “It was a moment full of obvious joy and humor, and the studio audience (and I imagine millions more around the world) enthusiastically cheered and shouted for them. I did, too. But months later, while the debates on race, religion, identity, and sexual orientation raged on, I thought back and realized just how special, and meaningful, their dance was…Each word of the title represents a movement in the piece, and each movement revolves around the instruments of the orchestra combining, layering, and ‘dancing’ with one another.
“The original plan for this piece was to have the musicians clap their hands, stomp their feet, sing, shout, and preach (testify!) to the audience…I even thought that Obama’s and DeGeneres’ words would make for a fascinating libretto that I could set for a chorus comprised of the orchestra members. However…I realized one of the most appealing aspects of instrumental music — devoid of text — [is] its ability to allow the audience member to assign his/her own ideas, words, and meanings…The intrinsic, and elusive, nature of instrumental music allows us, both as listeners and as followers, the ability to hear the voice of the composer and complete those sentences of sound…it’s all about the partnership.”
More DBR news: On February 26th, the Harlem Chamber Players offer DBR’s String Quartet No. 2 “King.” Artistic Director Liz Player notes, “We’re excited about programming DBR’s “King” Quartet for our Black History Month Celebration because DBR is a local Harlem resident composer, the quartet honors one of our greatest black leaders in history, and the music itself has a really soulful laid back quality I think will seduce the audience.”