Throughout the month of May, our United Strings of Color (Kennedy Mitchell and CT Thomas, violins, Sterling Elliott, viola; Lexi Etienne, cello) have been commemorating black lives lost through music and poetry in a series of Violin Vigils.  These have taken place at a variety of locations including St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, the Martin Luther King Memorial Gardens, and the Stephenson Amphitheater at Raleigh Little Theatre.

These events are more than just concerts — they are opportunities to acknowledge the tragedy of continued racial violence in our country and honor those whose lives were lost as a result.  For centuries, music has been used as a way to mourn, to memorialize, and to motivate the world to change. Music is so much more than entertainment, and our United Strings of Color has proven that true time and time again.  From its formation in 2018, the quartet has been working to bring attention to important topics such as the underrepresentation of people of color and women in classical music and now, with these Violin Vigils, the tragic and unjust loss of black lives.

Our May 1st vigil was described by CVNC Reviewer Mark Lambert as follows: “The event was part recitation, part concert, part memorial, part church service. In attendance were a substantial number of keen listeners, masked and socially distanced, as young people read poems addressing the Black experience, several composed by their readers, interspersed with musical selections that in many cases underscored and amplified the emotional and dramatic thrusts of the poetry.” Click here to read the full review.

image of United Strings of Color performing alongside guest musicians

During our May 25th vigil, we were honored to have Roger Floyd, the uncle of George Floyd, provide closing remarks. With his words, Floyd inspired the audience to work towards unity and to support the building of the George Floyd Memorial Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, a space he intends to prompt important conversations and encourage connections.  We are beyond grateful to Roger Floyd for his powerful words at our recent Violin Vigil. 

We were also lucky to have WRAL and ABC11 present at our event, helping to spread our message beyond the audience at Raleigh Little Theatre.  Click here to read ABC11’s report and click here to watch WRAL’s full recording of the event.

The Philharmonic Association commends our young musicians for their important work and for the great impact they have had on our community with their meaningful performances.