There was a protest moment at last night’s St. Louis Symphony concert:
Demonstrators interrupt St. Louis Symphony singing a ‘Requiem for Mike Brown’
Posted: Saturday, October 4, 2014 11:33 pm | Updated: 9:31 am, Sun Oct 5, 2014.
By Rebecca Rivas Of The St. Louis American
Just after intermission, about 50 people interrupted the St. Louis Symphony’s performance of Brahms Requiem on Saturday night, singing “Justice for Mike Brown.”
As symphony conductor Markus Stenz stepped to the podium to begin the second act of German Requiem, one middle-aged African-American man stood up in the middle of the theater and sang, “What side are you on friend, what side are you on…?”
…Outside, symphony administrators huddled together discussing the demonstration. When asked if they wanted to comment, they said no…
From a performing musician’s perspective – they pulled this off perfectly. It was civil disobedience (albeit for a largely sympathetic audience), yet they did not interrupt the actual performance of a great work of art (which is a sacred thing in and of itself to performing musicians), and they did so in a meaningful musical and textual manner (from a referential aesthetic viewpoint). Reading the account, some appeared to be trained musicians (pace the individual filming the smart phone video) who had prepared and executed a protest in the language and manner of the temple in the temple without disturbing the liturgy (I’m taking that analogy as far as I can, I know).
It was a powerful moment and for the most part the audience got it. The St. Louis Symphony management certainly did. They handled their response perfectly. The St. Louis Symphony is a community (the institution and its audience) and part of a larger community (the St. Louis area). The protesters put a lot of thought and preparation in this. They did so without destroying the performance of the Brahms. Members of the orchestra’s community (obviously people who are and have been in their audience in the past) shared their pain and protest in that particular venue. It was civil disobedience with panache.
As for effectiveness. We’re talking about it, aren’t we?