In this time of national trauma, DACAMERA stands in solidarity with those who fight against racism and injustice. We mourn with the family of George Floyd and members of our Black community; we grieve with all who suffer from the wounds of racial violence; we abhor the menace of fear that rips our society apart and destroys human dignity.
At DACAMERA we have always believed that music is not just entertainment or diversion, but a vital way of connecting with others. Through the performance of diverse styles and forms of music, we are viscerally moved by music that comes out of stories, times and cultures that may not be our own. We sit together in concert halls next to strangers we may never meet otherwise, and feel as one. Music can touch the core of our humanity; it teaches us that we can be both different and one.
Music can also bear witness to injustice and memorialize the victims of violence. The civil rights movement in America has been led not just on the streets but also through music.To listen to the Black spirituals first sung in fields and in churches in the time of slavery is to feel the burden of suffering and the deep patience of faith; to listen to Billie Holiday’s chilling Strange Fruit of 1939 is to face the horror of lynchings in our country’s south. Music assures that we will not forget.
In recent years, the Sphinx Organization in Detroit has been an important catalyst for change with its transformative support of talented young musicians of color. We offer you in today’s Home Delivery a performance of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, commissioned by the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra and featuring the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club. This work honors the lives of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Kenneth Chamberlain, Amadou Diallo, and John Crawford. I urge you to listen. We also include a recent musical statement from Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic and a DACAMERA series artist.
We are living in an extraordinary moment. Many have lamented their sense of isolation as we combat the threat of COVID-19, and now, with the outpouring of pain, there is also the possibility of greater compassion and unity, even in these times of division. 60,000 Houstonians turned out peacefully to stand with the family of George Floyd. We should not have to say it, but it needs to be said: Black lives matter. I recognize, as a white person, that the sorrow I feel can not equal the emotion of those who may face injustice or indignity because of the color of their skin; I realize that my words may not be the right ones. But I also write as a mother. We teach our children to repeat a pledge every school day, and we need to look deep into our souls and make that pledge ourselves, and work together to make it true: Liberty and justice for all.
We are grateful for its power, but recognize that music alone is not enough. Only change can heal us.
Joel Thompson: Seven Last Words of the Unarmed
The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra and featured guest University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club
Eugene Rogers, conductor
New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinetist Anthony McGill