Sable Pride, Three poems by Countee Cullen set to music by Lori Laitman. Commissioned by countertenor, Darryl Taylor. Contents: A Brown Girl Dead, Incident, Tableau.
- Lori Laitman
- Countee Cullen
- Enchanted Knickers Music
- Classical / Song
- Piano, Countertenor
- Scored for
- Solo, Accompanying piano
- Type of score
- Piano-vocal score
- Year of composition
Sable Pride was commissioned by countertenor Darryl Taylor. It sets three poems by Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen. Cullen’s poems display great lyricism, craft and content that is extremely powerful. Each poem addresses the issue of race from a different angle. A Brown Girl Dead focuses on the profound bond between mother and child. The language in Incident is simple, but the use of the “N” word creates a searing portrait of a child whose life was changed by racial hatred. To capture this enormous emotional impact, I use a leitmotif in the piano, where the piano descends to the bottom of its range over a sustained pedal, creating a booming, blurred and dark atmosphere. To end the cycle, I looked for a poem that would provide an antidote to hatred, and found this in Tableau. The poem tells the story of racial harmony (and most likely homosexual love). The beautiful image of the two boys, one white and one black, walking arm in arm, is mirrored by the use of the piano. Overlapping in range, the left hand plays on the white keys, while the right hand plays on the black keys, thus creating a physical representation of interlocked arms. The cycle ends with the piano descending, almost as if pulling back cinematically from the scene.
The premiere recording by Darryl Taylor and Andrew Rosenblum can be found on my Living in the Body CD set, released by Naxos.
(c) 2013 Lori Laitman, Enchanted Knickers Music, BMI
Print Publication date: June 5, 2020.