On Wednesday, September 21, all of the employees of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Duke Energy in Charlotte, NC, were told to go home in anticipation of planned protests over the police shooting of Keith Scott. Downtown was basically being evacuated. In the nine years I’ve lived in Charlotte I never have witnessed anything like the frenetic exit that all were attempting to make. That night the peaceful protest turned violent, with looting, fights, and a murder that was within steps of our stage door.
The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra was scheduled to give a concert on Thursday night—our first of this season. Because of the uncertainty, safety concerns, and the state of emergency, our management decided to cancel our Thursday night concert. In coordination with our orchestra committee, our Music Director and management were able to quickly change our previously scheduled Friday morning photography service into a “concert for peace”. Additionally, our local classical station WDAV agreed to broadcast our concert. The costs of the concert were covered in large part by Wells Fargo and an anonymous donor. We did not have time to rehearse the concert, but our orchestra was committed to use music in our community as a clarion call for peace and unity. We all rose to the occasion to use our skill to bring our city together. The concert began with Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, which was performed in front of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. After this, the orchestra assembled onstage and we began our broadcast, which included: Copland’s Lincoln Portrait (with Reverend Dr. Clifford Jones, narrator) and Simple Gifts; “Lift Every Voice” by Johnson; the Largo from Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World”; and “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations.
The concert also featured remarks from Mary Deissler, our new President and Executive Director, Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, and board member Hugh McColl, a Charlotte philanthropist and the former CEO of Bank of America.
One could not have anticipated what Charlotte has experienced during this time: loss, fear, despair, endangerment, and pain, but also hope, community, love, and understanding. These wounds will take time to heal, but I’m proud of our organization for its ongoing role in mending them.