Visual and Performing Arts

Superior Wind Symphony: REPARATIONS

As the academic year started, Black Lives Matter was appropriately in the air. I decided, in solidarity with the movement, to perform, nothing but the music of Black composers in the Superior Wind Symphony, and to use the title “Reparations” for all of this year’s music.

We have played a wide variety of music in the SWS since I arrived here in 2012, so have already played many pieces by Black composers, but this felt like it was time to go “all in” with the idea that “you are what you play”.

We recorded 19 pieces of music by Black composers this year and rehearsed several more that we couldn’t quite play well enough to share. This music is from 1625 (only 6 years after blacks were enslaved here in the United States) to 2019. There are Spirituals, Marches, Show Tunes, Jazz, Waltzes, Holiday Tunes, Sonatas, Masses. Folk Tunes, Overtures and a composition written by a living composer about a smallish, interesting MN town: Stillwater.

I am very grateful to be a part of a Music Department that allows me to change my outlook and behavior when it seems appropriate. And, as I write this, the George Floyd verdict has just been handed down. I thus hope that our SWS Reparations is another tiny beginning of progress.

Mike Christianson