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College of Arts and Sciences

New multimedia piece honoring George Floyd and others premieres Sept. 27

By: Linda B. Glaser
A&S Communications
September 23, 2020

In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the unrest in her hometown of Minneapolis/St. Paul, violinist Ariana Kim, associate professor of music, has teamed up with Twin Cities artists narrator Lou Bellamy, writer-narrator Sarah Bellamy and composer-activist Steve Heitzeg to create a multimedia piece for solo violin and spoken word entitled, "How Many Breaths? – In Memory of George Floyd and Countless Others." It premieres online on Sunday, September 27 at 5 pm ET and is free and open to the public.

The work includes performances of original text and music by Lou Bellamy, Sarah Bellamy - 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 during the summer of 2020.

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 George Floyd’s death in her hometown 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.  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,” explained Kim. “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 session with the contributing artists, moderated by TV host and anti-bias education specialist Sherine Onukwuwe at the Walker West Academy.  The formal discussion will be followed by a more informal Zoom "reception" where audience members can engage with the artists in a "backstage"-style moment at 6pm.

The event is free and open to the public but registration is required at chambermusicmn.com.