In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the unrest in her native Minneapolis-St. Paul, violinist Ariana Kim, associate professor of music in the College of Arts and Sciences, has collaborated on a multimedia piece for solo violin and spoken word, “How Many Breaths? – In Memory of George Floyd and Countless Others.”
The work premieres online Sept. 27, 5 p.m. EDT, and is free and open to the public. Registration is required.
Kim’s collaborators are a trio of Twin Cities artists: narrator Lou Bellamy; writer-narrator Sarah Bellamy; and composer-activist Steve Heitzeg. The work includes performances of original text and music by Lou and Sarah Bellamy – both artists with Penumbra Center for Racial Healing in Minneapolis – and Kim, sewn together with images and video of the powerful street art and demonstration footage captured from around the Twin Cities over the summer.
Kim said the inspiration from the piece came during a drive from New York to her parents’ home in Minneapolis. She spent the 21-hour journey listening to interviews, reflections and public radio coverage of all that had transpired after Floyd’s death and the shockwaves it sent around the globe.
“As I began to reflect on my own relationship with racism – both as a receiver and a participant – I entered a somber, pensive space that eventually gave way to an overwhelming sense of wanting to create,” she said. “I envisioned a piece that could be a prayer from the Twin Cities for the Twin Cities, and started thinking about a piece for solo violin and spoken word. My hope is that ‘How Many Breaths?’ can bring about a chance to reflect, honor and find inspiration to help affect true and lasting change.”
The premiere of the piece will be presented virtually by the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota, for which Kim serves as co-artistic director. It will be followed by a round-table Q&A with the contributing artists, moderated by TV host and anti-bias education specialist Sherine Onukwuwe at the Walker West Academy of St. Paul, a music academy rooted in the African American cultural experience.
The formal discussion will be followed by a more informal Zoom reception, beginning at 6 p.m., where audience members can engage with the artists.
Linda B. Glaser is the news and media relations manager for the College of Arts and Sciences.