by Jarrett Hoffman
In response to the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, and the killing of so many other black people in this country, clarinetist Anthony McGill has begun a call to action to #TakeTwoKnees “in the struggle for justice and decency.”
On Wednesday, May 27, the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic posted to his Facebook page a powerful written message and a short video: his performance of a deeply sad arrangement of America the Beautiful. Since then, 70,000 people have watched that original video, and a countless number of musicians and other artists have responded by adding their voices in solidarity.
Hymns, spirituals, jazz, classical, folk songs, pop, new compositions, dance performances, visual art, or no art at all — the responses have been highly varied, though nearly all of them include the gesture of getting down on two knees in a moment of silence. The emotional experience of taking in these forms of expression cannot be put into words.