Seven composers and performers on the roles of musicians in enacting social change

Posted on: June 9, 2020

Top row: Marcos Balter, Eun Lee, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Pamela Z; bottom row: George E. Lewis, Courtney Bryan (photo by Arielle Pentes), Nathalie Joachim (photo by Eric Patrice O’Brien).

“No artistic response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor can adequately address the capaciousness of these injustices,” writes Will Robin in Friday’s (6/5) NewMusicBox. “But what does ‘more than music’ mean? … [Seven] artists … have been thinking deeply, and for many years, about the role of musicians in enacting social change…. ‘Accountability is key right now,’ says composer Marcos Balter. ‘You cannot fix a problem if you don’t understand your part in it and publicly acknowledge it.… This is not a movement, and we should not conflate what is in the news with what is new. It’s old, very old, and it needs to end.’ ” Says flutist/composer/vocalist Nathalie Joachim, “Almost every major artistic movement that has happened in every field has coincided with some major change or event that has happened in the world. We have always been called to respond, to be first responders for our communities; it is so important for us to see ourselves as that now. To lean into it, and to lean into one another.” Also quoted are clarinetist Eun Lee, founder of The Dream Unfinished orchestra; composer Jonathan Bailey; composer/performer/artist Pamela Z; composer/musicologist George E. Lewis; and composer/pianist Courtney Bryan.