On March 31, 2019 the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with the Leon County Government and The Village Square, will present a stunning concert that features a powerful new musical composition by Joel Thompson titled Seven Last Words of the Unarmed. Written for male chorus and orchestra, the work’s seven movements quote utterances from unarmed black men before they were killed by authority figures. For the piece, Thompson chooses seven statements that most closely align with the classical structure of Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ. The movements are as follows:
- “Why do you have your guns out?” – Kenneth Chamberlain, 66
- “What are you following me for?” – Trayvon Martin, 16
- “Mom, I’m going to college.” – Amadou Diallo, 23
- “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.” – Michael Brown, 18
- “You shot me! You shot me!” – Oscar Grant, 22
- “It’s not real.” – John Crawford, 22
- “I can’t breathe.” – Eric Garner, 43
The concert’s second half will present Beethoven’s beloved Ninth Symphony, the ultimate expression of humanity, brotherhood, bonding, and equality. Beethoven’s Ninth is a life-affirming masterpiece whose joyful message has inspired millions of people worldwide since its premiere in 1824.
The TSO will partner with the Atlanta-based Morehouse College Glee Club and the Concert Choir of Florida A&M University for the performance. We will also enlist community singers to participate in the performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, an underscoring of the project’s message of unity.
Following the concert, The Village Square will facilitate a dialogue among attendees regarding race relations and racial profiling in our community and the country at large. Thus, the event title “Ode to Understanding”.