Clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. He serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic — that orchestra’s first African-American principal player — and maintains a dynamic international solo and chamber music career. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), as well as for his “exquisite combination of technical refinement and expressive radiance” (The Baltimore Sun), McGill also serves as an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. He was honored to take part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero.
Mr. McGill will be one of Off the Hook Arts’ Virtual Virtuosos this fall. The Virtual Virtuosos series will feature OtHA’s Artistic Director Bruce Adolphe in conversation with a multitude of musicians as they discuss how life in music has changed during the pandemic, what they hope for in the coming months and years, and the social and political aspects of the arts. To find out more about that series please CLICK HERE.
2020 Avery Fisher Prize Awarded to Anthony McGill
Video and description of award courtesy of the Lincoln Center.
On Tuesday, September 15 at 6 pm EDT, the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize was awarded to clarinetist Anthony McGill. The award recognizes musicians who represent the highest level of musical excellence and whose vision and leadership have expanded the reach of classical music.
“This “normal” isn’t new. It’s just easier to see what’s going on now that some of the horrific hate crimes that happen every day make the national news. Complacency is rampant, and hiding behind privilege is obviously just as bad. If there were hashtag movements in the last century during America’s ‘good old days’ one could have easily been ‘BlackLivesDefinitelyDontMatter.’ Few would have batted an eye.
Earlier this year, before the pandemic, I performed in Birmingham, Alabama and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The challenging history of those places speaks for itself, but in those two trips, I met some of the nicest people that you’ll ever meet in this country. I also pondered how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go in terms of treating everyone with respect and decency. We live alongside that reality all across America. What the news this week and most weeks of my life demonstrates, however, is that Black lives didn’t matter in our glorified past, and still don’t matter that much today.
Flashback then with me to when a football player attempted a protest, bringing to our attention the murder of black people. People said: ‘Let’s not politicize sports,’ and ‘all lives matter.’ Now add to that list Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, two men who clearly didn’t deserve their fates.
Now we don’t have sports to distract us, and we’re mostly at home. Now’s the time to protest. Can we say #ALMBLM2 (All lives matter and black lives matter as well)? Or #HowAboutNow? Or maybe the best thing to share is #ICareAboutBlackLives. #ICareAboutBlackLives is a pretty innocent statement, so if that’s considered radical we’ll have really shined a light on the problem.
So join me. Pick one of these potent hashtags, or all of them. And this time let’s try and #TakeTwoKnees in the struggle for justice and decency. No guidelines. Your message, your voice, your mission, your focus. Just #TakeTwoKnees for what you believe in. Pass it along. Let’s try this again and put a spotlight on this evil. #TakeTwoKnees“