MSO Statement on the Chauvin verdict

MSO’s mission is to perform outstanding symphony concerts for diverse audiences throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and the diverse relationships we’ve developed across the community are an important part of our work as an ensemble. Almost a year ago, after the killing of George Floyd, we began the process of educating ourselves about systemic racism and implicit bias, so that we might be better equipped to address and act upon issues of racism in classical music and in our community. 
This week we witnessed the three guilty verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin. While we are glad for the verdicts, we must ask ourselves, in what moral universe do we even need this trial to confirm what we all saw? Why did it have to take an almost 10-minute excruciating video and an entire team of expert attorneys, experts and re-traumatizing testimony from eye-witnesses to get the first appropriate verdict of a white police officer’s murder of an unarmed Black fellow community member? In the same week, we also grieve the death of Daunte Wright in an encounter with Brooklyn Center police. We know that the Chauvin verdict is a step in the right direction, and we have many steps to yet take to achieve racial equity. 
We want to add our voices to those calling for change. We believe that Black Lives Matter: that Black people should have the same rights as all people, that Black bodies deserve to be treated with dignity, and that Black voices need to be heard and amplified. We commit to continue our own learning and work in the right direction.

Composer feature – Reinaldo Moya

One of my favorite local composers is Reinaldo Moya, and this week I’d like to share some of his music for orchestra and strings. Click here to explore several recordings of his work. Reinaldo is originally from Venezuela, and now teaches composition at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. In 2016, his Passacaglia for Orchestra was chosen as the winner of the Earshot Composers Competition sponsored by the American Composers Orchestra. He also recently served as Composer-in-Residence for the Schubert Club and has written several operas that have been performed in New York and Minnesota. When I listen to recordings of his ensemble pieces I hear a fascinating intricacy and interplay between the instruments, and a wonderful variety of textures and overlapping melodies!

Want to go deeper? Click here to learn about Moya’s 2019 opera, commissioned by the Schubert Club. Tienda tells the story of Luis Garzón, a Mexican musician who immigrated to Minneapolis in 1886 and opened a small Mexican grocery store, or tienda de abarotes, in St. Paul in the 1920s. Although Luis was fully integrated into Minneapolitan society, his store served as a community hub for the newest arrivals from Mexico, many of whom had fled the Mexican Revolution to work on the sugar beet farms of rural Minnesota. The opera explores the immigrant experience and reveals a chapter in the history of St. Paul that is unfamiliar to many community members.

“For These Classical Musicians, It’s Always Been About Racial Equity” by Joshua Barone

Racial equity work has started in earnest for most large classical music institutions after the events of the past year. However, there are many classical groups that have been working for decades to influence change and promote racial equity in classical music. Please read about these organizations, their efforts, and lessons learned in the following article. As musicians and an organization, what can we learn from them?

“For These Classical Musicians, It’s Always Been About Racial Equity” by Joshua Barone

Jessie Montgomery, NewMusicBox

I’m excited to share one of my favorite music resources and invite us all to explore the compelling music of composer, performer, and educator Jessie Montgomery! The Washington Post writes that Montgomery’s music “interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life.”

NewMusicBox is an online magazine of print and video interviews with living composers. What I love most about these interviews is that we get to connect with composers as human beings: we’re invited in to see photos of their daliy lives and learn who & what has influenced their music. In this 2016 NewMusicBox interview, Montgomery talks about Banner, which she was commissioned to write as a reflection on the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner. Drawing on musical and historical sources from various world anthems and patriotic songs, she made an attempt to answer the question: “What does an anthem for the 21st century sound like in today’s multi-cultural environment?” Listen to a fantastic live recording of Banner by the LA Philharmonic.