Lâche pas: A Collection of Cajun Songs Arranged by Costas Dafnis
The francophone song tradition of Louisiana is perhaps the most enduring European oral tradition in North America, with roots dating back as far as the twelfth century. It has survived multiple trans-Atlantic displacements, a nineteenth century cultural metamorphosis, anti-francophone legislation, and continues to live and evolve today. Composer Costas Dafnis arranged Lâche pas la patate, a collection of traditional Louisiana francophone songs, in 2018 for soprano Nancy Carey. The source materials for this collection were published transcriptions of field recordings collected during the early twentieth century, though the songs themselves have much earlier origins—some date as early as the Middle Ages. Though traditional Cajun songs have been represented in instrumental art music, Lâche pas la patate is the first representation of this vibrant song tradition in the art song canon. This lecture recital reveals common features of songs in this tradition—modes, themes, forms, and rhythmic devices. Furthermore, the lecture identifies Dafnis’ incorporation of these elements in his arrangements, provides analysis of style techniques, and also investigates the unique features of Cajun and Creole dialects found in this collection.
Noted for his “electrifying performance” (Andre Harrell II, Voyager), recent performances include recitals at the 2014, 2018, and 2019 World Piano Conferences in Novi Sad, Serbia; at the V Encuentro de Pianistas in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2019; and at Erin Hall in Cape Town, South Africa in 2019. He has performed solo recitals, chamber music, and piano concertos with orchestras throughout the United States.