I had a ticket to the Symphony last Saturday night. The program was an all Brahms program. The first half was very enjoyable. The baritone soloist had a good voice and enunciated everything very well. The orchestra had a small screen suspended above them which showed the German words and the English translation.
At the end of the intermission, just as the conductor was ready to give the downbeat, a younger black man several rows ahead of me stood up and began singing “Which Side Are You On?” Within a line or two, a female voice joined in. As they continued to sing, more people stood and sang with them. While this was going on, some people in the balcony unfurled three big banners and hung them over the edge of the balcony.
After about five minutes, the singers marched out, chanting something about justice for black men. I realized I was at a protest. As they left, they handed out paper hearts with “Requiem for Michael Brown” on them. (The last half of the program was Brahms German Requiem.) Michael Brown was a young black man shot by a white policeman in Ferguson back in August. That’s what started all the protests and unrest which is still continuing.
I will say whoever organized this protest did a good job. The singers all had good voices and sang in harmony. I wondered if they were a choir from one of the Ferguson churches. Other than interrupting the concert for about five minutes, they did not cause any disturbance. However, I’m not sure why they decided protesting at a Symphony concert was a good thing to do.
The guest conductor waited a few minutes for the orchestra and chorus to get themselves together. Then he began the Brahms Requiem. The soprano and baritone soloists did a good job. It was a good concert even with the interruption by the protestors.
When I drove to the concert hall that night, I had no idea I would be attending a protest as well as a concert.