Lisette: A Song’s Journey From Haiti & Back

Thursday, 9 November 2023, 2:15 – 3:45pm
Governor’s Sq. 14


In Lisette: A Song’s Journey from Haiti and Back, Jean Bernard Cerin and Nicholas Mathew trace the circuitous history of “Lisette quitté la plaine,” the oldest surviving song text in early Haitian Creole, arranged several times between the 1750s and the 1940s. This lecture-recital explores the rich history of elite and vernacular music in colonial Saint Domingue and traces a song, originally famous in a slave-holding society, changed in meaning as it found a new place in Black communities in Louisiana and, subsequently, modern Haiti. Beside and in dialogue with “Lisette,” the program features operatic literature from early Haiti, anthem parodies from the Haitian Revolution and the American Civil War, and virtuosic keyboard music from Louisiana and modern Haiti.


Jean Bernard Cerin is a multifaceted singer, scholar and professor who produces and performs in projects ranging from film, recital, oratorio, traditional storytelling, opera and folk music. Last season, he directed and starred in the documentary Lisette (2022), which made its premier at the Berkeley Early Music Festival in California. His crossover piano-vocal duo, Kuwento Mizik released its freshman album “Lua Nova” in August 2022. Praised for his “burnished tone and focused phrasing,” (Chestnut Hill Local) Jean Bernard performs extensively with leading early music ensembles across the United States including Philadelphia based Choral Arts, Piffaro Renaissance Wind Ensemble, Tempesta di Mare Baroque Orchestra, Louisville’s Bourbon Baroque, and Classical Uncorked in Seattle. Jean Bernard serves on faculty at Ithaca College in New York.

Jean Bernard Cerin

The British-born musicologist and pianist Nicholas Mathew is Professor of Music and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Arts and Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Mathew regularly appears as a recitalist and chamber performer, primarily on historical pianos, in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. A widely published scholar and critic, he is an authority on the history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music, especially Beethoven, Haydn, Viennese musical culture, and historical performance practices. Professor Mathew is a frequent public speaker, to both general and specialist audiences, on musical and artistic matters. He is the author of Political Beethoven and The Haydn Economy.

Nicholas Mathew