• Nathalie Joachim
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Program Notes
Natalie Joachim, vocals, flute, and electronics
Spektral Quartet

Clara Lyon, violin
Maeve Fienberg, violin
Doyle Armbrust, viola
Russell Rolen, cello

Streaming Premiere
Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 7pm

Filmed exclusively for Cal Performances at Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago, on September 15, 2020.


Fanm d’Ayiti
by Nathalie Joachim

Interlude: Couldn’t Tell Her What to Do

Papa Loko
Traditional Haitian song, arranged by Nathalie Joachim

Interlude – September 24, 1918

Manman m voye m peze kafe
Original song by Emerante de Pradines (1918–2018), arranged by Nathalie Joachim

Legba na konsole
Original song by Emerante de Pradines, arranged by Nathalie Joachim

Madan Bellegarde
Lyrics by Ipheta Fortuma, music by Nathalie Joachim

Suite pou Dantan: Prelid
Lyrics from a traditional Haitian song, music by Nathalie Joachim

Suite pou Dantan: Alléluia
Lyrics from a traditional church hymn, music by Nathalie Joachim

Suite pou Dantan: Resevwa Li
Lyrics from a traditional Haitian song, music by Nathalie Joachim

Interlude: The Ones I Listened To

Lamizè pa dous
Traditional Haitian song, arranged by Nathalie Joachim

Fanm d’Ayiti
Traditional Haitian song, arranged by Nathalie Joachim

Note: following its premiere, the video recording of this concert will be available on demand through January 12, 2021.

Oct 14, 2020, 7pm
Add to Calendar 10/14/2020 07:00 pm 10/14/2020 08:30 pm America/Los_Angeles Nathalie Joachim https://calperformances.org/events/2020-21/new-music/nathalie-joachim-and-spektral-quartet-fanm-dayiti/
Video no longer available.
Nathalie Joachim and Spektral Quartet; Fanm d'Ayiti

My journey to Fanm d’Ayiti started in late 2015, shortly after the passing of my maternal grandmother. She and I spent many a cherished moment underneath the mango and coconut trees in her yard in Haiti—and in my childhood home in America—singing songs with one another. It was our way of telling each other stories, and her way of passing on a centuries-long cultural practice of oral history. She taught me to embrace and share my heart freely through song, without fear of judgment. This honesty and absence of judgment is how she lived her life, as can be heard in her own words on “Madan Bellegarde,” one of this programs featured works.

Her absence ignited a deep desire for understanding in me. In what ways did our voices connect with the voices of other Haitian women? What did our songs tell us about our past, and what might they mean for the future?

The foundation of Fanm d’Ayiti began to reveal itself readily through conversation: with my family, and with others willing to share their piece of our cultural puzzle. These ex­changes led me to learn about dozens of Hai­tian female artists, each committed to carrying forward the story of the first free black republic—people known for making treasured somethings out of nothing. These women used their voices to uplift future generations by celebrating our strength.

In Fanm d’Ayiti, I share recordings from my conversations with three women: Emerante de Pradines, a prized voice of Haiti’s Golden Age; Milena Sandler, daughter of the late, famed chanteuse Toto Bissainthe; and celebrated vodou songstress Carole Demesmin.

Emerante, at 98 years old, speaks of our connection to one another as female Haitian artists and a deep need to return home and help our people. This is one of her final recorded interviews prior to her passing in January 2018. Milena speaks of her mother’s devotion to authentic artistry and social justice, which drove her to sing freedom songs fearlessly in the face of notorious Haitian dictator François Du­valier. Carole speaks of using her songs to offer light in a time of darkness in Haiti, and of advancing the work of Emerante and Toto into the next generation.

These voices and my grandmother’s are intertwined with recordings of the girls choir from my family’s farming village of Dantan, sending their voices into heaven with hope for tomorrow. I feel lucky to be joining my voice with theirs, bringing listeners a sonic portfolio of my originals and arrangements of historic Haitian songs, woven together in a musical celebration of activism and hope.

The entrance to my grandmother’s yard was a beautiful archway of red hibiscus flowers—her favorite, and a national emblem of Haiti. Walking through that archway into her light was a rite of passage. This work has also welcomed me into a space of self-discovery and historical reckoning, guided by the irrepressible spirit of my ancestors… a revelation now given voice through Fanm d’Ayiti.


Nathalie Joachim is a Grammy-nominated flutist, composer, and vocalist. The Brooklyn born Haitian-American artist is hailed for being “a fresh and invigorating cross-cultural voice” (The Nation). She is co-founder of the critically acclaimed urban art pop duo Flutronix and comfortably navigates all kinds of music, from classical to indie-rock, all while advocating for social change and cultural awareness. A 2020  United States Artist Fellow and 2019–20 Kaufman Music Center Artist-in-Residence, Joachim has performed and recorded with an impressive range of today’s most exciting artists and ensembles, including Bryce Dessner, Bon­nie “Prince” Billy, Richard Reed Parry, Miguel Zenón, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and is the former flutist of the contemporary chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird. As a composer, Joachim is regularly commissioned to write for instrumental and vocal artists, dance, and interdisciplinary theater, each highlighting her unique electroacoustic style. Her Fanm d’Ayiti is an evening-length work for flute, voice, string quartet, and electronics that celebrates some of Haiti’s most iconic yet under recognized female artists, and explores Joachim’s personal Haitian heritage. The work, released in 2019 on New Amsterdam Records as Joachim’s first featured solo album, received a Grammy Award nomination for Best World Music Album.


The three-time Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet actively pursues a vivid conversation between exhilarating works of the traditional repertoire and those written this decade, this year, or even this week. Since its inception in 2010, Spektral has become known for creating seamless connections across centuries, drawing in the listener with charismatic deliveries, interactive and intimate concert formats, and bold, inquisitive programming.

With a tour schedule that routinely includes some of the country’s most notable concert venues—including the Kennedy Center, Miller Theater, Library of Congress, and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts—the quartet also takes great pride in its home city of Chicago: championing the work of local composers, bridging social and aesthetic partitions, and cultivating its ongoing residency at the University of Chicago.

Named “Chicagoans of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune in 2017, Spektral Quartet first attracted national attention in 2013 with Mobile Miniatures—a project in which over 40 composers including David Lang, Shulamit Ran, and Nico Muhly were commissioned to write string quartet ringtones for mobile devices. (Spektral has enhanced the project’s scope and scale with each passing season to include new works from luminaries including Anna Thor­valds­dottir, George Lewis, and Augusta Read Thomas.) The group has launched three unique concert series in Chicago: Close Encounters, which elevates listeners’ enjoyment of non-mainstream music through gastronomy, architecture, and nature in exclusive settings; the Dovetail Series, which unites Chicago’s historically segregated north and south sides by way of improvisation and devised collaborations; and Once More, With Feeling!, a series that answers contemporary music’s most daunting hurdle by presenting an unfamiliar work twice on the same program, with a charismatic composer interview in between.

The quartet’s distinguished artistic collaborators include Claire Chase (flutist, Inter­na­tional Contemporary Ensemble founder, MacArthur fellow), Theaster Gates (artist, Rebuild Foun­dation founder), Julia Holter (critically acclaimed songwriter and Domino Records recording artist), Nathalie Joachim (composer, Flutronix co-founder, Eighth Blackbird flutist), Mark DeChiazza (choreographer with credits including Kronos Quartet, John Luther Adams, and Steven Mackey), and Miguel Zenón (saxophonist, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow).

Committed to both sustaining and transforming the string quartet tradition, Spektral Quartet is in-demand for its presentations on inclusion, progressive programming, and entrepreneurship at leading institutions and programs around the country including Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, the New World Symphony, and the National Association of Schools of Music.

Special Guests

Emerante de Pradines (Interlude: September 24, 1918; Interlude: The Ones I Listened To); Michelange Lundi and the Girls Choir of École Presbyterale Fatima de Dantan (“Suite pou Dan­tan”); Milena Sandler (Interlude: Couldn’t Tell Her What to Do; Interlude: The Ones I Listened To); Ipheta Fortuma (“Madan Belle­garde”); Carole Demesmin (Interlude: The Ones I Listened To)

All original music and arrangements © 2018 Nathalie Joachim and Flutronix Publishing (ASCAP).

Spektral Quartet

Special Thanks

For their support of the recording, commission, and world premiere performances of Fanm d’Ayiti: Kate Nordstrum and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series, Conor O’Neil and the Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, Justus Schlichting, and New Music USA.

Willy Joachim and Yolaine Chatelain, Toto Bissainthe, Carole Demesmin, Emerante de Pradines, Bing Chang, Jean Joseph and Betty Exume, Juliana “Gigi” Joseph, James Lauture, Jean Ary Louis, Rosemana Prosper, Milena Sandler and Joel Widmaier, Farah Cedieu, Lucy Dhegrae, JP Merz, Yves Penel, Jean-Claude Nazon, and Jon Oulman.

“This work would not have been made possible without the tremendous kindness and encouragement of my family and friends, the people of Haiti, and the ancestors who guided me through this process.”

Nathalie Joachim


Fanm d’Ayiti
by Nathalie Joachim

Interlude: Couldn’t Tell Her What to Do

Papa Loko
Papa Loko ou se van
Pouse n ale
Nou se papiyon
N ap pote nouvèl bay Agwe

E tout sa ki di byen
Je m la e
E tout sa ki di mal
Je m la e

Papa Loko ou se van
Pouse n ale
Nou se papiyon
N ap pote nouvèl bay Agwe

Pawòl papa Loko
Pawòl anpil

Papa Loko, you are the wind
Pushing us to go
We are butterflies
Bringing your news to Agwe

And all that you say is good
Belongs to me
And all that you say is bad
Belongs to me

 Papa Loko, you are the wind
Pushing us to go
We are butterflies
Bringing your news to Agwe

 The words of Papa Loko
So many words

Interlude – September 24, 1918

Manman m voye m peze kafe
Manman m voye m peze kafe o
Annarivan mwen sou pòtay la mwen
jwenn jandam arete m
Mezanmi anmwe sa ma di lakay lè ma rive
Mezanmi mesye sa ma di lakay lè ma rive
Mezanmi anmwe sa ma di lakay lè ma rive

My mother sent me to get the coffee pressed
When I got down to the road, a policeman
arrested me
My goodness, what am I going to say
when I get home?
My goodness, sir, what am I going to say when I get home?
My goodness, what am I going to say
when I get home?

Legba na konsole
Legba na konsole
Apibo na console
Wawa vodou nèg a Legba na konsole

Legba will console us
Apibo will console us
All of you vodou spirits, Legba will console us

Madan Bellegarde
Madan Bellegarde kondane
Wi, li kondane
Li kondane devan pechè
Li pa kondane devan Bondye

Madan Bellegarde is condemned
Yes, she is condemned
She is condemned before sinners
She is not condemned before God

Suite pou Dantan: Prelid
Lanmou Bondye gen pou nou
Ap dire toutan gen tan

Menm si yon manman ta bliye pitit li
Mwen menm Granmèt la
Mwen p ap janm bliye ou

Mòn yo met kraze
Plenn yo te mèt tranble
Amou mwen pou ou pa gen dwa disparèt

The love that God has for us
Will last forever

 Even if a mother forgets her children
I, your God, will never
forget you

 The world may be breaking
The earth may be shaking
But my love for you will never disappear

Suite pou Dantan: Alléluia
Je t’ai tant cherché mon seigneur et mon roi
Je t’ai tant cherché dans la nuit
Et moi tu m’as dit que tu étais la vie
Alors je chante, Alléluia

I have searched for you so much, my God
and my king
I have searched for you so much through
the night
And you told me that you were life
So I sing, Alleluia

Suite pou Dantan: Resevwa Li
Men n’ap proche devan ou Granmèt
Avèk tout ti kado n yo papa
Li mèt tout piti kou li ye,
Tanpri resevwa li

Adye papa souple
Kisa pou m ta ba ou
Ou ki fè tout bagay
Ou ki mèt tout bagay

Kado nou pot pou ou
Se tout jefò n ap fe
Pou peyi n devlope
Pou lavi nou pi bèl.

We come before you, God
With all of our little gifts, Father
As little as they may be
Please receive them

 Oh father, please
What should I give you
You, who makes everything
You, who creates everything

 The gifts we bring to you
Are all of our efforts
To benefit our country
For our lives to be the most beautiful

Interlude: The Ones I Listened To

Lamizè pa dous
Mwen malad m kouche m pa ka leve
Palmannan o, m pa moun isit o
Bondye rele m m prale

Mwen malad Palmannan
Bondye rele m m prale
Gade m malad Palmannan
Bondye rele m m prale
Palmannan o
M pa moun isit o
Bondye rele m m prale

O Sàn o lamizè pa dous o, ago e
Lamizè pa dous o, ago e
M pral chache lavi en lòt kote o.

Nanpwen lavi ankò o
Mezanmi mwen nanpwen lavi ankò o

Vire isit se dlo
Vire lòtbò son lòt dlo
N ap pote wòch yo konble lanmè o
Nanpwen lavi ankò o

I’m sick, I’m resting, I can’t get up
Palmannan, I’m not from this place
God is calling me, I’m going

 I’m sick, Palmannan
God is calling me, I’m going
Look, I’m sick, Palmannan
God is calling me, I’m going
I’m not from this place
God is calling me, I’m going

 Oh spirits, misery is not sweet
I’m going to find life in another place

 There is no life anymore
My goodness, there is no life for me anymore
 Turn here, there’s water
Turn the other way, there’s other water We will carry rocks to fill the sea
There is no life anymore

Fanm d’Ayiti
Se nou ki bay lavi
Se nou ki te chanje li
San nou latè ta vid
San nou lavi ta tris
Depi latè fleri
Fanm toujou ap redi
Nan peyi d’Ayiti
Konbit pa fèt san nou

Nan bwa kayiman sonje n te la
Lè lendepandans o n toutan la
Lè l t ap fè drapo sa
Se nou ki te koud li
Jodi a fò n kanpe vanyan di Ayibobo

Nan peyi k gen lefwe
Se nou k te Kòmande
Kou l sizè di swaTout gason monte bwa
E si yo pa t gen zèl
Se nou ankò k ba yo
Nan peyi k gen lefwe
Se nou k te Kòmande

Fanm d’Ayiti kanpe
Tankou tout fanm vanyan
Pou reklame dwa nou
Pou n di viv libète

It is us who give life
It is us who changed it
Without us, the world would be empty
Without us, life would be sad
Since the world began blooming
Women have always worked hard
In the country of Haiti
Community can’t be created without us

Remember that we were at Bwa Kayiman
We were also there at the time of independence
When the flag was made
It was us who sewed it
Today we valiantly stand and say Ayibobo

In countries that have been captured
We are the Commanders
After six o’clock
All the boys climb their branches
And if they don’t have wings
It is also us who gives provides them
In countries that have been captured
We are the Commanders

Women of Haiti stand
Like all valiant women
To reclaim our rights
To say freedom lives


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Stream Premiere

Oct 14, 2020, 7pm
Add to Calendar 10/14/2020 07:00 pm 10/14/2020 08:30 pm America/Los_Angeles Nathalie Joachim https://calperformances.org/events/2020-21/new-music/nathalie-joachim-and-spektral-quartet-fanm-dayiti/
Video no longer available.
Nathalie Joachim and Spektral Quartet; Fanm d'Ayiti

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