"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before," said Leonard Bernstein, the music director of the New York Philharmonic in November of 1963, just days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Over half a century later, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has chosen to quote the great American composer, a little over a week after the tragic death of Freddie Gray on April 19.
The BSO invoked Bernstein on its Facebook page, part of a statement announcing the orchestra's plans to play a free concert outside the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore at noon on Wednesday. The hall is located two and half miles from Mondawmin Mall, one of the various locations gripped by looting and violence earlier this week.
Music Director, Marin Alsop, supports our community every day. Here she is conducting "Deep River" at our #BSOPeace gathering this afternoon!
Posted by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, April 29, 2015
While the Baltimore Orioles gear up to play for an empty stadium -- the first closed-door game in MLB history -- the players of the BSO will step outside to perform.
"An orchestra official said that a number of ensemble’s musicians had decided to donate their time to play music outside their hall, feeling the need to respond to the crisis in their hometown," The New York Times' Michael Cooper reported. "The orchestra is considering other ways in which it can respond in the near future."
Earlier on Tuesday, BSO music director Marin Alsop commented on the unrest in her city. "I am heartbroken for our dear city," she wrote on Facebook. "With so much need alongside so much possibility, I hope we can use any opportunities we get to set an example and inspire others to join us in trying to change the world."
The funeral for Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man killed by Baltimore police under still contentious circumstances, was held on Monday at Shiloh Baptist Church. The Department of Justice opened an investigation into his death on April 23.