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Fanm d’Ayiti

Exploring the Women of Haitian Song

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Fanm d’Ayiti premiere and beyond

Posted on December 10, 2018 by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

Nathalie Joachim’s Fanm d’Ayiti (Women of Haiti), an evening-length work for voice, flute, string quartet and electronics, premiered on March 14, 2018.  Commissioned by St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series, Fanm d’Ayiti is a celebration of some of Haiti’s most iconic yet under recognized female artists, as well as an exploration of Joachim’s Haitian heritage. The project featured original songs incorporating the recorded voices of Joachim’s grandmother and the girls’ choir of her family’s home farming village of Dantan; new arrangements of songs by some of the greatest known female voices in Haitian history; and recorded interviews with these artists about their lives fighting for social justice and uplifting the people of Haiti.

 Developed in a two-year Liquid Music Virtual Residency, Fanm d’Ayiti will be presented in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 season with Spektral Quartet and will be recorded with New Amsterdam Records and released in 2019. Since premiering through the Liquid Music series, Joachim’s project Fanm d’Ayiti has gained traction and received funding from the Jerome Foundation, New Music USA and the Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation.


The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series develops innovative new projects with iconoclastic artists in unique presentation formats. On March 14, 2018, the series will present a commissioned project by flutist and composer Nathalie Joachim called Fanm d’Ayiti (Women of Haiti)  featuring an SPCO quartet. As Liquid Music’s 2016.17 virtual artist in residence, Joachim spent the 2016.17 season developing the program and sharing her progress with the public via the Liquid Music blog.

Joachim regularly combines her exceptional performance skill as a flutist with her creative talents as a composer, producer, and singer, navigating genres ranging from classical and jazz to indie-rock and electronic. She is flutist of the four-time Grammy winning contemporary chamber ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, and co-founder of the critically acclaimed urban art pop duo, Flutronix.

Fanm d’Ayiti builds on the Brooklyn-born artist’s examination of her Haitian roots through her work with a multi-layered celebration of the women of Haitian song, featuring Joachim on flute, vocals, and electronics with backing by a string quartet. Through new arrangements of their work and her own compositions, Joachim will seek to explore these women’s individual stories as they relate to Afro-Caribbean culture, society, history, and music, and to give them a long-deserved international platform.

Joachim writes in one of her Liquid Music blog posts: “Haiti isn’t so different from many nations in its way of being male-dominated, yet silently steered by women. There are many reasons why this is the case – politics, culture, tradition, opportunity, etc. – and yet, it was striking to me to discover so few Haitian women at the core of a very rich musical history. To me, Haiti has always been synonymous with the concept of matriarchy. My experience and internal sense of the nation goes hand in hand with the representation of strength through women, and of course attributes an essence of magic and fearlessness to them.”

In this unique performance, audience members will explore some of the most prominent female voices represented in Haitian music from the 1930s through present day, and learn about the country’s musical influences from Africa, France, Cuba, and the United States. Joachim will impart the stories behind these roots – stories of political exile, cultural affirmation, and independence.

The virtual residency allowed for unparalleled online creative intimacy via regular updates on the Liquid Music blog. In addition, Joachim conducted a series of virtual visits with Minneapolis and Saint Paul schools participating in the SPCO’s CONNECT music education program to answer questions about her music and process. These students will be invited to attend her performance when it premieres this spring. Joachim will also participate in a free conversation with On Being’ Krista Tippet on January 15 to share her journey to creating Fanm d’Ayiti and perform a few songs from the concert.

“As connected as I am to Haiti, I genuinely believe that this will be as much about discovery for me as it is about exposure for you, and everything about that excites me,” Joachim writes.

Project Media

“Fight or…” for alto flute and electronics
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Features: Nathalie Joachim

An excerpt from Nathalie Joachim’s score for LAND BRIDGE, an evening-length work by choreographer Helen Simoneau. The piece investigates heritage, assimilation and identity to reveal how the willing erasure of the self may serve as a means of renewal and redirection. This work premiered at the Hanesbrand Theatre in Winston-Salem, NC, March 3-5, 2016.

Life Lines
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Features: Nathalie Joachim

Life Lines appears on Flutronix’s sophomore album, 2.0, released in 2014 on Flutronix Records. The work was written as a tribute to Joachim’s life lines – those people who she can rely on unconditionally to support and encourage her in good times and bad. The piece relies on high energy perpetual motion driven by the drums and electronics, as the flutes shadow and rely on each other to continue moving forward.

Start and End Dates



Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Last update on December 10, 2018

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Saint Paul, Minnesota
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra strives to present diverse and adventurous programming that both demonstrates world-class artistry and advances the public’s appreciation for the breadth, depth, and vibrancy of new musical composition. Renowned for its artistic excellence, remarkable versatility of musical styles and adventurous programming, the SPCO is widely regarded as one of the finest…

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One response to “Fanm d’Ayiti”

  1. christopher mcneil says:

    Very amazing work

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