This week has focused our attention as a nation on the systemic racism in our society that set the stage for the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor (whose birthday would have been today), and so many others.
Along with many in the arts community this week, we have paused from our usual activities to actively listen and create space for the challenging conversations about what actions we can take to be better allies and more inclusive to the black members of our community.
Against this backdrop, we would like to share with you two pieces of music that speak to this particular moment in time. The first is a performance from 2019 by the Boston Gay Men's Chorus of Joel Thompson's Seven Last Words of the Unarmed. As its title suggests, it is a poignant musical setting of the last words spoken by seven unarmed black men: Kenneth Chamberlain, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, John Crawford, and Eric Garner.
The second is a moving rendition of "We Shall Overcome" by Robyn Smith, Naomi Preston, and Nola Preston. Robyn is a BPO Crescendo Teaching Artist and was a trombonist in the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for four years. We are grateful for her voice and contribution.
To those who are searching for solace and hope at this time, we offer the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra's March performance of Nimrod, from Elgar's Enigma Variations. We remain committed to our belief that music has great power to express the pain and agonies of life, as well as to unite and to heal us, individually and collectively.