Courtesy of Garrett McQueen
East Lansing, Michigan
By WKAR Staff
April 29, 2021
Hosted by Garrett McQueen, The Sound of 13 is a 13-week series of programs recognizing the significant influence and contributions of Afro-Americans to classical music through the lens of the 13th Amendment.
The 2020 killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many other Black citizens led many in America to reckon anew with race… including classical music institutions and their patrons. Radio and podcast host Garrett McQueen opens a historical and contemporary conversation of race and classical music with the 13th amendment as the guide in a new series that will be heard on WKAR, called The Sound of 13. The 13-episode program will air Mondays at 7pm, having started March 22, and end June 14, just before the Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 19.
Garrett McQueen is a professional bassoonist who has performed with symphonies and in venues across the country. He is also an accomplished instructor and has performed in multiple Broadway musicals and television series. Garrett is a strong advocate for the diversification of classical music and the advancement of Black musicians in the field. He is the creator of and co-host of Trilloquy, a weekly podcast and arts initiative that affirms the „classic“ aspects of compositions from all cultures in an effort to decolonize so-called „classical music.“
As with many of his spiritual settings, the work Southland Sketches by Henry Thacker Burleigh gives us a glimpse into America’s Reconstruction Era through violin and piano melodies while William L. Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony traces his ancestors’ abduction from Africa to the search for hope and equality when he wrote it in 1934.
Mighty River, by the Belize-born British composer Errolyn Wallen, CBE, starts things off this week. Plus, we play the ballet Sahdji, by William Grant Still, set during a hunting festival of the Azande tribe in central Africa.
Using Haydn’s Seven Last Words of the Cross as a template, Joel Thompson wrote his powerful Seven Last Words of the Unarmed using final words of, as Thompson put it, “African- American men: each killed by police or by authority figures,” a haunting work that will be sung by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club.
We have a focus on performers this week as pianist/composer Stewart Goodyear records all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, we learn more about the Detroit based Sphinx Organization and its efforts to bolster inclusivity in classical music and we listen to conductor Paul Freeman’s 9-album survey of Black symphonic composers.
A string quartet revisits the reimagined version of Nina Simone’s Feelin’ Good, plus Joseph Schwantner uses speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to celebrate the civil rights icon in New Morning for the World (“Daybreak of Freedom”).
The Capital Region’s source for classical music, local news and NPR. The station operates 24 hours per day and is available online at wkar.org.