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Making Music His Megaphone

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Wednesday May 02, 2018

From CSO Sounds & Stories

A socially conscious Terence Blanchard makes music his megaphone
By: Mark Guarino

Just recently, a man walked up to trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard after one of his performances. He told Blanchard he was expecting to hear the lush melodies of “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina),” Blanchard’s Grammy-winning work from 2007. But instead, he was confronted with the music of “Live,” which at time rages with electric blues guitar, ominous synthesizers chords and Blanchard’s charging trumpet.

“But then you told us what the music was about,” he told Blanchard (who performs May 18 at Orchestra Hall as part of the SCP Jazz Series). “I had to think that if the guy who created ‘Tale of God’s Will’ is so angry, then I have to rethink my position about gun control.”

[…] At each concert, Blanchard and his band worked to engage local audiences by participating in panel discussions or bringing youth-program members to rehearsals and soundchecks. The project, he says, represents his “little megaphone” to keep the issue from being buried. He worries how the continued killings of unarmed black people, as well as rising anti-Semitism, are becoming normalized. There is dismay when he sees politicians retiring to dodge the issue or doing very little in the first place. He likens the complacency to last summer’s fracas over whether Confederate statues should be allowed to remain standing in New Orleans. For years, he and countless others drove by all of them, a desensitizing process that ended once the statues came down. He remembers watching with his daughter for four hours, waiting for one to topple. Once it did, he said he felt “a weight” fall off his shoulders and the feeling that “now the space feels it’s for everybody” — not just those mired in a certain side of the city’s distant past.

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