Review: An outdoor chamber concert in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood cemetery, honoring Black lives

Posted on: October 26, 2020

“I went out last night. To a … sensitively programmed, lovingly produced, meticulously safe two-hour concert,” writes Justin Davidson in Saturday’s (10/24) “Andrew Ousley, the resourceful publicist and impresario behind the presenting organization Death of Classical, realized [that Brooklyn’s] Green-Wood Cemetery is the perfect site for a pandemic concert…. The concert, titled ‘To America,’ … honored Black lives and dark moods … When the bass Paul Grosvenor materialized from behind DeWitt Clinton’s memorial to sing ‘Deep River,’ I suspect everyone in the standing audience could share the yearnings for a calmer campground over Jordan…. The program began and ended with ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ the anthem by James Weldon Johnson (who is buried on the grounds) and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson…. Freddie June delivered ‘Strange Fruit’ near the grave of former slave Margaret Pine…. A string quartet inside the catacombs played the moving, mournful Adagio from George Walker’s String Quartet No. 1…. Cold weather is bearing down and the music world will go from dormancy to hibernation, and we’ll have to spend the winter drawing down our reserves of memory. ‘To America’ is a precious deposit to that account.”