Anyway, I was invited by Afa Dworkin, the President and CEO of Sphinx, whose husband was to narrate the premiere of "An American Rhapsody". If you know me, you know that I support all things black, so I was there with bells on, as they say.
I walk into the hall and I instantly get this feeling of PTSD. Who are these people? Am I welcome here? Will this be an experience I'll remember? As the usher brought Dell and I to our seats, I settled in and prepared myself for whatever was to come.
Fast forward past the first two pieces (which included Jessie Montgomery's "Starburst" - shout out to her), and you have "An American Rhapsody" - music by Afro-English composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor, with the narration of words by George Washington. Here's a bit of what was in the program, regarding this work:
Dell and I left after intermission - I'd heard enough. It would be one thing if these events were painted with the truth and rawness that are the words of a slave owner - the ownership of the human body and spirit as something that should NEVER be forgiven. But this wasn't the case. At the end of the performance, people stood up, applauded, and cheered with that sense of "yes, tis well! Washington was just a man of his time, and even WANTED to free his slaves!" It reminds me a lot of this scene from Django:
I'm tired. Orchestras are not going to willfully address how inept and incompetent they are when it comes to community engagement and cultural equity. If you call them out, they try and come for your job. This isn't new information, or even a new experience for me - just showcasing another example of why I left the stage for a job in media.