Lift Every Voice and Sing. A violin arrangement.
Baird Dodge is Principal Second Violin at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Earlier this week, I found a message from Baird, and this video, in DE's inbox.
The video is of Baird performing an arrangement by Chicago Sinfonietta's Kyle Dickson of Lift Every Voice and Sing, the Black national anthem. The video was made by Todd Rosenberg and the drone angles are by Brant Taylor.
I don't know Baird, so I asked him what his connection is to Evanston, how he found DE, and what moved him to perform this piece.
He told me that he doesn't have a connection to Evanston, but that the Dear Evanston piece about the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI, and the powerful statements Jacob's mother Julia Jackson, his sister Letetra Widman, and his father Jacob Blake had made at a news conference had popped up on his FB feed (). He said he wanted DE to post it in the hopes that during these difficult days people feel supported by it.
"Really, the project just grew out of 'What can I, a classical violinist with no experience with activism, do?'" he told me.
"I was lucky enough to know Kyle Dickson, who had been working on a brand new arrangement of the song for violin, and after playing it at a few protests, I decided to make a video with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s amazing videographer, Todd Rosenberg, and a cellist friend in the orchestra who is a drone hobbyist."
When the CSO posted the video on their Facebook page, it elicited this response from Dayvin Hallmon, who served as County board supervisor of Kenosha County's 7th District from 2008 to 2018 and the music director of Black String Triage Ensemble.
"Dear Chicago Symphony Orchestra, I am the music director of The Black String Triage Ensemble. I was born in Chicago and the Chicago Symphony has always been my guiding light, my inspiration and thought of as my orchestra.
From 2008 to 2018, I was the County board supervisor of Kenosha County's 7th District. I worked diligently for 10 years to prevent everything that has been seen from occurring in Kenosha. I could not grieve at all about what has happened. It has been a constant struggle to try to understand why nobody in Kenosha listened to the numerous warnings that I gave while being in public office. All week, I could not find it within myself to cry about any of it. One of the violinists in The Black String Triage Ensemble sent me this video this morning. It was a permission slip to finally be able to grieve. Thank you for being who you are and thank you for not letting me down."
Thank you, Baird, for sharing your beautiful work with us, to inspire us, lift us up, help us grieve, move us, and motivate us to keep pushing for justice.
Click here to read Pastor Michael Nabors' scathing letter he sent to Kenosha County Supervisors earlier this week in response to their call for additional National Guardsmen to come to Kenosha: bit.ly/32UjSLp
Click here to listen to Evanston residents Bruce Allan King, Lonnie Wilson, Stephanie Saunders, and Patrick Keenan-Devlin recite and sing the words to this stunning anthem recorded two years ago: .