We Met at the Symphony

WMATS.2.square.postcard.jpg

Music and poems by Nkeiru Okoye

2022

Song Cycle

Approx 15 minutes

for soprano and string quartet

Themes: Black Love, humor, social commentary

For score and parts, contact  rental@presser.com

Vocal score

Summary

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.  

 

Media

Preview of No.1 at Brooklyn Public Library

Leah Hunter, Soprano

The Harlem Chamber Players

Lyrics

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

 

Amidst

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…

 

But 

Wait a minute,

wait a minute – 

Who is he?

Coffee-hued,

High cheekbones,

catching my eyes

Nice suit

Yes

 

Make that 2498 faces

 

We met at the symphony

 

=========

©2021. Nkeiru Okoye. All rights reserved

 

No. 2. A deafening moan

Springtime

Happiness

Our unmitigated bliss

Come, Love he said

Together, in love, he said

Be my---

 

ooooh,

Passion,

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

 

Autumn

Suspicion

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.

Sometimes,

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

Yes

 

 

=========

©2021. Nkeiru Okoye. All rights reserved