WETA Metro presents a thought-provoking musical performance from the National Philharmonic Orchestra for Black History Month, inspired by a tragic event that continues to resonate and engage us.
In 2023, the National Philharmonic, based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, presented "America's Requiem: A Knee on the Neck", a special concert that commemorated the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis Black man who died of suffocation in 2020 when a policeman pressed his knee on Floyd's neck. The brutal manner of death became a rallying cry against police brutality and for greater accountability.
This recorded performance from 2023 opens with the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s A Knee on The Neck, composed around the poetry of Dr. Herbert Martin. The National Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorale is conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski and Chorus Master Eugene Rogers, and features members of The Washington Chorus and the Howard University Chorale, as well as vocalists J’Nai Bridges, Norman Shankle, and Kenneth Overton.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's eternal and heartrending Requiem closes the program. The Requiem remained unfinished at Mozart’s untimely death in 1791, but was completed the following year by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, using, in part, sketches that Mozart left. The strong emotional impact of Mozart’s Requiem remains to this day, an icon of art that contemplates the destiny of life and death. As the Mozart Project describes the work: “This song is a testament to the will of a man who is nearing the end of his life.”
More information is available at the National Philharmonic’s website.
Tune in to “America’s Requiem: A Knee on the Neck” on WETA Metro, Saturday, February 10, 3:00 p.m. (ET). A repeat performance is scheduled February 11 at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
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