He played Hatikvah on his knees—and the seniors sang.
That was one of several highlights of Daniel Bernard Roumain’s initial days in New Haven—highlights that spoke to the ability of music to connect people across generations, race, and spiritual tradition. Roumain is a nationally known Haitian-American hip-hop classical violinist; the New Haven Symphony Orchestra has invited him here for a 20-day residency, on stages and in the schools. (Click here to read about that and about his kick-off event Monday evening at Consiglio’s in Wooster Square.) Roumain is keeping a diary of his time here for the Independent. Here’s his second installment, about a visit Wednesday to the Tower One/Tower East senior complex in the Hill and a Thursday night performance with the symphony at Woolsey Hall:
At Tower One: The most poignant moment was when I talked about my first violin teacher, Mr. Miller, who was Jewish. And the first piece I played was “Hatikvah” (the Israeli national anthem). I got down on my knees at the height of a 5 year-old.
First I played it scratchy like a 5 year old with my mother in the audience crying thinking I was really good. Then I played it for real. And they all sang along.
At that moment, ages went out the window. We were all Jewish. We were all old and white and remembering our parents and my families.
Woolsey Hall: There were well over 1,00 people. I think I did my job. The orchestra sounded great, of course.
We performed my Woodbox Violin Concerto. “Woodbox” is my shorthand slang for violin. The piece is in two parts—at turns dissonant and at turns unabashedly tonal. Always funky. There’s a drum kit.
I think it worked well in that hall. We took a lot of time to properly amplify the violin; I used a lot of my sound effects. At the same time there were many passages that only the orchestra played without the drum kit, music that is very choral-like, organ-like. I think it’s a piece with something for everyone young old.
There was a great reception afterwards in the lobby. I saw many people of many different colors there, young and old. An older woman from Tower One and a young black girl from Fair Haven were all side by side, talking about the music, talking about the piece.
Thought of the day: What is a composer?
A person who frames sounds and