Suite for Charlottesville
Regarding the "Unite the Right" Rally that took place in Charlottesville, VA on August 11-12, 2017
(Robert E.) Lee Park
Shadows of the March
“Kris Monson depicts in his Charlottesville Suite the angst and moral outrage of this tragic event. This is what music can be: a reflection and expression of important seminal moments in history."
– Phil Markowitz
“His [Kris Monson’s] Suite for Cville is deserving of awards, grants, promotion and more. It should be performed many more times across the country, as the message is clearly one that is both pertinent and urgent.”
– Ingrid Jensen
“… the first masterpiece of yours that I’ve ever heard. Thank you very much for involving me in this. A pleasure it has been.”
– Tyshawn Sorey
I was in DC on August 11 – 12, 2017, watching the national news coverage in disbelief as the Unite the Right Rally events unfolded. As I attempted to reconcile with what had happened in Charlottesville, I decided to write music to respond to the violence and unrest. The music in this suite is a reflection on our history and future as a community, presented via the great tradition of Black American Music.
The music is organized into four movements that describe the physical and emotional settings before, during, and after the 2017 protest events.
The 1st movement, (Robert E.) Lee Park, is about the beloved city park where the protesters gathered, and the park’s namesake statue that served as a rallying cry for the protesters.
The 2nd movement, The March, is a slow and painful reflection on the hatred that physically marched throughout the city.
The 3rd movement, Shadows of the March, is an intimate duet between bass clarinet and double bass that represents two voices mourning the events of the protests, trying to understand what had happened and why.
The final movement, Emancipation Park, brings us to the present day as we determine how to move forward from the realities of our history. A metaphor for the ongoing controversies surrounding the renaming of Lee Park first to “Emancipation Park” and then to “Market Street Park”, musical dissonances resolve for a moment, giving an illusion of unity, only to later collapse again. The suite ends with one unison melody, signifying resilience and hope for the future.