Haiti Alive is a rich blend of French African Haitian Creole culture

Haiti Alive is at the Purchase College Performing Arts Center in Purchase, New York on Friday, November 15, 2019 at 7pm.

Tickets from $17.50

Haiti Alive

This is a concert of classical music, ballet and jazz inspired by Haiti. It is part of (T)HERE: A Global Festival of Art, Culture and Ideas – Haiti at Purchase College November 14-16, 2019.

This evening’s program includes:

Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Grande Tarantelle, Op. 67

Gottschalk (1829-1869) was an American Jewish-Creole romantic composer born in New Orleans. His father sent him to train in Europe when he was 13. On his return, the young pianist toured the Caribbean.

Thinking about the composer, one can conclude that being mixed race enabled Gottschalk to absorb everything he came across. He could be European. He could be African. It’s one of the benefits of being multicultural. You can relate to everyone.

Gottschalk was so popular in his day that his work became cliché. He wrote this piece around 1866.

In 1964, George Balanchine, the Russian father of ballet in the United States, choreographed an Italian folk dance to the work as Tarantella. It’s in the New York City Ballet repertoire.

Balanchine was a champion of folk dances. He made ballets from them. I wonder if he really understood where this music from. Maybe it doesn’t matter because humans are human everywhere.

Gottschalk/Mayer: Symphony No. 1 “La Nuit des tropiques” (Solo Piano Transcription)

“Tropical night” is Gottschalk’s most famous symphony. It premiered in Havana in 1859. The first movement is considered to be the first symphony recording of Brazilian samba.

Gottschalk: Symphony No.1 “La Nuit des tropiques”; Movement II (Orchestra)

Interestingly, the score was stolen from Havana in 1932. It was found in the New York Public Library in the 1950s, and premiered at Columbia University in 1955.

Jean “Rudy” Perrault: Exodus

Rudy Perrault is the Director of Orchestras and Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota. The distinguished artist was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

This string quartet is clearly a reference to escaping slavery. In New York City, one might wonder why the Jewish and African communities get along so well. We both experienced slavery.

The first two chords in the piece represent the Haitian Creole words “Krik-Krak.” West Africa has a strong tradition of Griot storytellers. They are like troubadours in Europe, pleneros in Puerto Rico, or social media around the world today. They spread the news.

When a Griot wants to gather a crowd, he says “Krik.” People who want to hear his stories say “Krak” and the storytelling begins.

Jazz set based on themes by Gottschalk, Ludovic Lamothe, and Justin Elie

Jazz is Creole.


This concert is produced by the Purchase Symphony Orchestra featuring local high school musicians, Purchase Jazz Interpretations Combo, and members of the Purchase Dance Company.

Mina Kim, Conductor
Steven Mayer, Piano
Gary Smulyan, Jazz Combo Director
Choreography by George Balanchine
Staged by Bettijane Sills

You can enjoy this concert without thinking much about it. But behind the music is a grand story about how much we are mixes of each other. If you want your garden to grow, you have to mix a good soil. That’s what this concert represents, a strong and fertile mix.

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