Our podcast Classically Speaking will be hosting a digital panel with performers, activists, clergy, and composer Joel Thompson next week, focused on Thompson’s choral/orchestral work The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed.
Thompson cites the Richmond County grand jury’s decision to not indict the officer responsible for Eric Garner’s death as the catalyst for this work. Each of the seven movements sets the last words of an unarmed Black man who was killed by police. The structure draws a parallel to the biblical seven last sayings of Christ on the cross, which have been set to music by several composers throughout history.
The entire piece was performed by the Sphinx organization in this video:
When the piece was premiered by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, it was part of the material from a public media documentary as well.
Ahead of the panel discussion, we want to know your questions about the piece, and classical music’s role in community activism. You can email them to host Colleen Phelps ([email protected]), or comment on our Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook page. We’ll record the panel on June 30, and release it on video via our YouTube page shortly after.