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Classical Music Bolsters Black Lives Matter Movement in 'Sing Her Name'

By Philip Trapp on Jul 14, 2016 03:29 PM EDT
Mourners Attend Wake And Funeral For Sandra Bland In Illinois LISLE, IL - JULY 25: Daija Belcher, 5, holds a sign in front of the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church during the funeral service for Sandra Bland on July 25, 2015 in Lisle, Illinois. Bland's death roused suspicion nationwide after the 28-year-old was found hanging from a plastic bag three days after she was pulled over by a Texas State Trooper for a traffic violation. (Photo : Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images)

In response to the nationwide trend of violence towards black people at the hands of law enforcement, music teacher and clarinet player Eun Lee organized the Sing Her Name event.

The function served as a classical music tribute to Sandra Bland and the countless other lives lost as a consequence of police brutality -- a polemical issue of late, as demonstrated by the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement.

As reported by the New York Times, Lee, a classical music fan, decided to initiate the ceremony upon recognizing the dearth of classical music offerings to the cause:

"After a series of Google searches along the lines of 'classical music black lives matter,' it became clear to her that no such project existed. 'It just hit me,' Ms. Lee said, 'that, as much as we were seeing a response from rap musicians and folk musicians and now more and more pop musicians, there was no such response from the classical music community.'"

Sing Her Name, which took place yesterday evening at the Great Hall at New York's Cooper Union, joined concerned classical musicians like composer Courtney Bryan, pianist Michelle Cann, violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins and soprano singer Marlissa Hudson with sympathetic speakers like Kimberlé Crenshaw, Trevor Weston and Agunda Okeyo. The event was produced in conjunction with civil rights organization The Dream Unfinished.

The Huffington Post points out Sing Her Name's unfortunate timeliness following last week's police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge:

"Sadly, Lee's homage is as relevant now as ever, coming off a devastating week of violence and loss as issues of police brutality and prejudice within the justice system continue to demand our attention and action. Last week, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for no other reason than legally selling CDs, becoming the 135th black person killed by police in 2016."

Below, watch a portion of the Say Her Name vigil (from which Sing Her Name mirrors its title) held last year in Austin, Texas following the death of Sandra Bland.

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TagsBlack Lives Matter, Sing Her Name, Sandra Bland, Eun Lee, Classical Music, Courtney Bryan