At Richmond’s Robert E. Lee monument, string musicians gather for Elijah McClain vigil

Posted on: July 23, 2020

Jennifer Arnold, director of artistic planning and operations at the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, performs with local musicians as part of a “violin vigil” for Elijah McClain, a Black violinist who was killed while in police custody in Colorado. The event took place at Richmond’s Robert E. Lee statue. Photo by James H. Wallace/Times-Dispatch

“A group of about two dozen musicians gathered at the base of the Robert E. Lee monument Tuesday evening to perform a Violin Vigil in memory of Elijah McClain … who died in police custody in August 2019,” writes Lily Betts in Wednesday’s (7/22) Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA). “The hourlong performance in Richmond, which opened with ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ and closed with ‘We Shall Overcome,’ drew a large, solemn crowd…. Jennifer Arnold, the director of artistic planning and operations at the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, said that the event came together in four days with the support of Sara Jobin, a conductor and RSO supporter based in Richmond…. ‘The Richmond Symphony is on hiatus for the summer, and I didn’t want to wait until September to make this possible,’ said Arnold.… The gathering was a much-needed expression of catharsis.… A small orchestra … played ‘Lyric for Strings’ by George Walker…. Its conductor, Naima Burrs, spoke to the piece’s original meaning—mourning the death of Walker’s grandmother…. The concert ended with no bow from the performers and a standing ovation from the crowd. Few left … and another band had set up on the opposite side of the monument.”