|PBS celebrates Orchestre Septentrional|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 14:02|
U.S.-based PBS will showcas the 2011 documentary, When the Drum Is Beating, which tells the story of Haiti's quintessential big band orchestra, the Orchestre Septentrional – affectionately nicknamed "Septen."
Directed by Whitney Dow, the documentary entwines the band's story with Haiti's history, from colonization, to the Haitian Revolution, to the devastating 2010 earthquake. The documentary also shows how the socially-conscious band deftly survived 6 decades of dictatorships and political upheaval.
"I wanted to give this broader context and present the band as a stand-in for the incredible spirit of the Haitian people," said Dow about the documentary's inspiration. "They were the first band to sing about black Haitians in everyday life."
Septen was founded on July 27, 1948 in Cap-Haïtien. The groups was led for 51 years by saxophonist Ulrich Pierre-Louis, who defined Septen's strict musical discipline and focus on local themes. The Septen signature sound, fondly called "boule de feu" ("ball of fire"), captures a unique blend of Caribbean music, from Haitian kompa to reggae, bolero and calypso.
Septen is currently on their North American tour and will come to West Palm Beach on April 27 at Elayne's Banquet Hall and to Miami Gardens on April 28 at the Ramada Hotel.
PBS features the documentary of the legendary band as part of its Independent Lens series. It premieres on Thursday, April 12.