Radio host Garrett McQueen, working for change in classical music, highlighting Black artistry

Posted on: July 10, 2020

“Garrett McQueen started his shift hosting ‘Music Through the Night,’ ” writes Jenna Ross in Monday’s (7/6) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “He settled into the Classical MPR studios, readied his notes and introduced a choral piece that mourns seven unarmed Black men killed during encounters with the police.… ‘Those were Eric Garner’s last words: “I can’t breathe,” ‘ he told listeners across the country over a snippet of [Joel Thompson’s oratorio] ‘The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed.’… Days after [George] Floyd’s killing, a Black classical music host was playing a work by a Black composer centering the voices of Black men…. The 33-year-old bassoonist turned radio host has long been calling for the conversation erupting in classical music around who plays—and gets played—in the concert hall and on the radio. On his show, syndicated by St. Paul-based American Public Media (APM), and his podcast ‘Trilloquy,’ McQueen spotlights Black composers and musicians, inviting them to tell their stories. He shakes up the typical repertoire, refusing to play pieces by ‘old, dead white men’ who profited off the slave trade…. Friends … describe him both as a professional with a perfectionist streak and an agitator unbothered by the norms of classical music.”