On March 31, conductor David Morrow led the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, the Florida A&M Concert Choir, and the Morehouse College Glee Club in Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by Joel Thompson (in photo). The work is set to the last words of black men killed by police or authority figures. Video of the concert is now available at Tallahassee’s WFSO Public Media station (the Thompson piece begins around the 17-minute mark). Thompson’s composition includes quotes from Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Kenneth Chamberlain, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, and Eric Garner, and uses Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ as a structural starting point. Following the work, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil led an onstage conversation with composer Joel Thompson and Tallahassee Symphony board members Byron Greene and Patrick Slevin. They discussed Thompson’s score, the path to TSO’s decision to program it, and how shared artistic experiences can affect the community as a whole. Other works on the orchestra’s “Ode to Understanding” concert included George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, I Am the Voice by Mark Butler, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, led by Music Director Darko Butorac. Click here to watch the concert.

Posted April 5, 2019