Our Musical Folktales

 

Tezen

A Folk Tale from Haiti

2015

Lovana, a young girl laboring to bring clean water to her aunt and uncle’s family, takes center stage in this kont, perhaps the best known in Haiti.  Alongside her is a magical fish, against the backdrop of a suspicious uncle and other family.  A searching refrain and ever-changing music  carry this engaging story to its dramatic conclusion.

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Allah's Favorite Butterfly

A Folk Tale from the Philippines

2018

On the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, a butterfly basks in the warmth of the sun and in the love and favor of Allah.  However, one day, he flitters into the palace of a sultan.  He discovers that he wants more out of life than just being a butterfly.  Earnest prayers and a djinn (genie) take us on a journey of self-discovery with butterfly.

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Sylvie & The Water Tree

An Original Story inspired by the African-American Folk Song, "Bring Me A Little Water Sylvie"

2021

It’s 1936 in Nicodemus, Kansas, one of the many towns founded by Exodusters, African-Americans who fled persecution in the South right after the Civil War.  Kind-hearted Sylvie has dreams about a man with a raven’s feather birthmark who needs her help.  Yet, this is the time of the Dust Bowl and water and resources are scarce for miles around.  Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter’s infectious song guides this story and we wouldn’t mind at all if audiences sing along.

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Other Works

 

Eye of the Poppy

A Spoken Word Cycle for 2 voices and piano

2019

Kuwento Mizik is privileged to collaborate with Ann Arbor poet Zilka Joseph.  Zilka is a prolific and award-winning poet, whose works draw upon her native India, Eastern and Western cultures, and her Bene Israel roots.  Her poem, The Eye of the Poppy, is from her book Sharp Blue Search of Flame (Wayne University Press, 2016).


In The Eye of the Poppy, Zilka explores the grief upon the passing of her mother through a sequence of remembered and imagined scenes.  Poppies, Jewish mourning rituals, a crematorium and streets in Kolkata, her childhood home, a beloved song, the world beyond the seen - these images inspired Kuwento Mizik to compose a spoken word cycle for two voices and piano.  Sound collage, directed improvisation, composed out and extended piano techniques are combined into a raw expression of grief, catharsis and healing.

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