Back to their roots: The Creole Choir of Cuba

31 Jan

After making a great impact at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009 and more recently at the London Jazz Festival, the Creole Choir of Cuba will be performing at the Barbican Centre as part of their first national tour. The group, who perform under the name Desandann in Cuba, the Creole word for ‘descendents’, came together to celebrate their Haitian heritage in song and dance. They sing in Creole, the language spoken by Haitian immigrants to Cuba, a mix of French and African languages. Almost a million people still speak Creole in Cuba.

The choir, which was formed in 1994, is made up of five men and five women, all from Cuba’s third city, Camagüey in the centre of the country. Their music, made up of spiritual melodies and wild harmonies, is influenced by the slave songs of African and, in turn, Haitian and Dominican immigrants who came to work on Cuba’s sugar plantations. After the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 the choir spent two months touring the country as part of the relief effort. As well as performing concerts for the public they ran workshops in some of the displaced persons camps.

The choir’s performance at the Barbican Centre on 8th February promises a colourful display of percussion, song and dance. The Scotsman has praised their past concerts as “entrancing, exquisite, unlike any other music show”, and if the Evening Standard’s review is anything to go by – “There are full throated solos and passionate choral responses in Creole, creating a rich, ringing sonority which is sometimes defiant, sometimes soothing, but always thrilling” – it promises to be a treat.

Image 1: creolechoir

Image 2: aaa-theater

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