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We Met at the Symphony


Music and poems by Nkeiru Okoye


Song Cycle

Approx 15 minutes

for soprano and string quartet

Themes: Black Love, humor, social commentary

For score and parts, contact

Vocal score


We Met at the Symphony is a cycle of three songs. 

1.    We Met at the Symphony     5 min
2.    A Deafening Moan                 5 min
3.    Trust                                         5 min

Approximate duration is 15 minutes

No. 1. We met at the symphony.

An African American woman reminisces about finding love at a symphony concert.  She’s familiar with the scene, and loves the music, despite the uniformity and social isolation she finds, amidst 2499 White faces.  Behind these she notices a Black man who is “coffee-hued” catching her eye.

No. 2. A deafening Moan.

A passionate romance follows, but in time, she learns all is not as it seems.

No. 3. Trust

In the devastating aftermath, she swears off Black men, turning down one who is not as flashy, but has good intentions.  Reflectively, she sees closing off her heart is the reason she is alone.  



Preview of No.1 at Brooklyn Public Library

Leah Hunter, Soprano

The Harlem Chamber Players


We Met at the Symphony

Poems by Nkeiru Okoye


No 1. We met at the symphony


We met at the symphony

Of all places


If ever walls should intimidate,

An edifice where the privileged cogitate,

Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and Bach


This place wreaks of uniformity --  


Uniformity of White instrumentalists,

Gestures synchronized

In uniformity they respond,

To a White man

waving a stick

Uniformity of the audience,

acknowledging musical offerings

Uniformity of applause,

Whether perfunctory or enthusiastic,


Yet, we met at the symphony



2499 White faces

And then mine,

pecan colored.


People stare, then avert eyes

Uniformly, it’s as though

disapproval shows

on 2499 White faces.


This woman does not belong here.

Unspoken echoes

My dimpled smile in response

To 2,49…



Wait a minute,

wait a minute – 

Who is he?


High cheekbones,

catching my eyes

Nice suit



Make that 2498 faces


We met at the symphony



©2021. Nkeiru Okoye. All rights reserved


No. 2. A deafening moan



Our unmitigated bliss

Come, Love he said

Together, in love, he said

Be my---




Passion of his sweet kiss

Passion on his deep brown lips


Ebony moments in summer nights

Ebony skin holding me tight

Such sweet escape

So easy to surrender


So much more the heart ache




Cutting me slowly,

A dull-bladed knife


In winter,

He said

Get rid of it

I have a wife


The sound

of my heart shattering

is a deafening moan,

Emanating from deep within



No. 3. Trust


I will never, trust another Black man again.

I will never, ever trust another Black man again.

This was my promise

This I spoke to my sacred soul


Hurt from a White man does not carry the same sting

Of one who knows

The skin I’m in

The skin he’s in


The betrayal of a black lover is complete


Now, there’s a brother

Brown skinned

Not trim

But sweet

He makes me laugh


But how can I?

I will never, trust another Black man again.


That is what I said

That is what I meant


So he left

And I am alone

I am alone


Sometimes I’m sorry I let him go

Sometimes I’m sorry, I told him no.


I wonder

I think about

What he would say if


I made a mistake

I’m sorry

I shouldn’t have --


Of course,

I can trust you


Thank you for loving me

I love you, too

I will





©2021. Nkeiru Okoye. All rights reserved

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