“Right is of no sex; truth is of no color, God is the Father of us all–and all are brethren.”
When Frederick Douglass inscribed those words on The North Star’s first issue in December 1847, it was a message that everyone should be treated with the same rights and dignity. Over a century since the anti-slavery paper was printed, this is not the case. Black lives continue to be burdened by a system that limits their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – the very same ideals this country was founded upon.
For over a year, RPO staff, musicians, and board have had thoughtful discussions on how we model ourselves as an institution for the community. Although we take pride in creating and sharing music, we understand and acknowledge the musical work serves everyone across our art-loving region. Under the baton of Music Director-Designate Andreas Delfs, our 21-22 Season consists of composers and artists from all walks of life. We have also created a taskforce of musicians, staff, board, and community partners to continue the dialogue and discover ways to address systemic inequalities in our industry.
We encourage you to visit our blog as we share stories of Black composers from the late-1700s to the present. Some, like the Chevalier de Saint-Georges and George Bridgetower, may be familiar to many. Others like Juste Chanlatte may be relatively new to many. We celebrate all they’ve accomplished and highlight the racial and social injustice brought upon them. We hope you will also join us for a concert on Monday, March 15th! Truth Is of No Color is a free digital streaming series featuring Black composers past and present. We begin our series with a celebration of the life and legacy of Rochester’s own Frederick Douglass, with works by Jessie Montgomery and Carlos Simon – two contemporary composers who bring a poignant and compelling focus at the intersection of art and social justice. Brought to you in partnership with Frederick Douglass Family Initiative, this program is FREE to the public, available to stream anytime, anywhere, at your convenience. Click here to reserve your (virtual) ticket!
Black Lives Matter. Period. The words shouldn’t be reiterated only when yet another Black body is victimized by an oppressive power that has sworn to protect them from harm. We are determined to celebrate Black lives, Black artists, and Black art – all day, every day, beyond the month of February.
The City renowned as the home of Frederick Douglass must live up to his legacy. Let us do that – hand in hand – to create a more equitable society for those with us and who come after us.