Cocología

Nina Whiteman and Vaganza, conducted by Jack Sheen

​28th October 2013

​​Cosmo Rodewald concert hall​

Nina Whiteman and Vaganza, conducted by Jack Sheen

Norberto James Rawling's 'Los inmigrantes' is an homage to the 'cocolos', and their culture, who were brought from the lower Antilles to Dominican Republic to work as slaves in the sugarcane industry. Marginalized because of their language and culture, the cocolos continued their own traditions. In the poem, the author - of cocolo descendency - honours the memory of his ancestors whose 'story has not been told' and whose 'pain remains attached to theirs.'

 

'Cocología' is a eulogy to the cocolos where Rawling's poem forms the foundation for the text and structure of the piece. There are two distinct musical materials. The first one is the eulogy, where the mezzo-soprano sings with the horns and the percussion; the second is an homage to the music of the cocolos. Rather than having the typical percussion and flute ensemble that the cocolos would normally use for their street performances, I used three string instruments and a clarinet.

The poem is unclear about whether it is a remembrance or a celebratory text which is present in the duality of the music. This ceremony could be one of jubilance or sadness, emphasised by the text and the music alike.