Rhapsody in Black

Composer Sydney Guillaume honors his ancestors' fight for independence

Sydney Guillaume composes mainly for choir. Courtesy of the artist

Rhapsody in Black - Syndey Guillaume


download audio

October 06, 2022

Composer Sydney Guillaume came to the United States at 11 from Haiti. While he calls America home, his compositions pay homage to his ancestors and their fight for independence. Most of his choral works use original poems by his father, Gabriel T. Guillaume. He uses his father’s words to create music that fosters awareness of the beautiful Haitian culture. Guillaume serves as an ambassador for his country while simultaneously speaking about the issues Haiti faces right now.

Musical selections from Sydney Guillaume

Twa Tanbou

One of Sydney’s messages is that we have to work together to secure our collective liberation. He offered words that reinforce this message about one of his most popular works Twa Tanbou, “In order for a team to reach the optimal result, each member must play his or her own part as a team. There is no room for self-obsessed glory. This ultimately brings down the team. True leaders are those who put their team’s collective well-being before themselves. The text of Twa Tanbou uses this philosophy, applied to three drums: the big Boula (the loudest), the smaller Tanbouren (the most beautiful sounding drum) and the little Kata drum, arguing that if everyone works together, there will be beautiful music!”

Dominus Vobiscum

This choral work is inspired by the Latin phrase ‘The Lord be with you’ and is sung in Haitian Creole. The theme is about the divine presence that is in everyone and that God is deep within our hearts.


Host: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Additional music selections: Jeffrey Yelverton

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher