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By Christine S. Escobar

Saturday, February 27 at 7 p.m. EST, Sound Off: Music for Bail will present a live-streamed concert featuring string quartets by Florence Price, Yaz Lancaster, and George Walker with the support of the Groupmuse Foundation’s Planetary Music Movement (PMM).

The abolitionist musical collective Sound Off: Music for Bail will raise money for national bail funds and celebrate Black composers in the live-streamed concert on the online concert platform Groupmuse. Groupmuse’s PMM is an initiative to grow beyond European ethnocentrism within classical music by celebrating composers, artists, and works of African descent.

Money raised will benefit the Bail Project’s National Revolving Bail Fund and Sound Off’s work in educating audiences about the realities of the U.S. prison-industrial complex, as well as mobilize musicians and students to work towards change in their own communities.

“PMM lauds Sound Off’s celebration of Black composers through this event. We are grateful to collaborate with Sound Off to transcend forces that fuel mass incarceration in the US and Eurocentrism within classical music,” says De’Siree Reeves, who leads PMM with cellist Dara Hankins.

Composer Yaz Lancaster, whose piece “Neutral Objects” was recently commissioned for National Sawdust’s Digital Discovery Festival and will be premiered in its full form on this concert, writes:

“In times of violence, protest, and upheaval, ‘neutral objects’ can come to stand in place of events within our collective memory as they become situated in new contexts. In this piece, I am interested in taking small, simple sounds (‘neutral’) and finding ways to ‘charge,’ or ‘de-neutralize’ them, and juxtaposing the original sounds with these changes.”

The event’s performers include violinists Njioma Grevious and Curtis Stewart, violist Kayla Williams, and cellist Thapelo Masita, who individually have received Grammy nominations and awards at the Fischoff and Concert Artists Guild competitions, performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the London Symphony Orchestra, and enjoyed thriving careers in a number of diverse settings outside of Western classical music. Featured speaker and community organizer Tatiana Hill, who has been profiled in Teen Vogue and Democracy Now for her work with organizations such as Voices of Community Activists and Leaders New York (VOCAL-NY), will speak about her own experiences working within liberatory processes and the challenges of fighting mass incarceration and racism. 

Sound Off: Music for Bail is a collective of musicians, activists, and thinkers dedicated to combining music performance with educational work that envisions alternatives to the current state of policing and imprisonment in the U.S. Their online programming includes free and low-cost instrument workshops, masterclasses with expert musicians, and concerts that raise funds for cash bail across the country. PMM offers monthly forums and concerts featuring contemporary artists of African descent who explore masterworks of the past and present.

For concert and ticket information, please visit the event page here.