A Musical Offering in Response to the Death of George Floyd

The ideas and viewpoints expressed in the posts on the Ideas and Creations blog are solely the view of the author(s). Luther College's mission statement calls us to "embrace diversity and challenge one another to learn in community," and to be "enlivened and transformed by encounters with one another, by the exchange of ideas, and by the life of faith and learning." Alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the college are encouraged to express their views, model "good disagreement" and engage in respectful dialogue.

This fall, our work in academia has included two major challenges: the pandemic of the coronavirus, and the pandemic of systemic racism. While we see a light at the end of the tunnel with the miraculous advent of multiple vaccines for COVID-19, the work of addressing racism is a long, arduous, and difficult journey.

On a system-wide level, we are grappling with racism at Luther by creating task forces and reading groups to both educate ourselves as well as propose lasting change that will make Luther a more welcoming and inclusive environment. On an individual level, many of us in the arts are responding to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others by creating new work that encourages us to reflect, react, and ultimately, to work for change.

When I learned about George Floyd’s murder on May 25, I could think of little else for several days. Ultimately, I was led to create a new work for Luther’s own Unison Piano Duo (Du Huang and Xiao Hu), “He Hung His Head and Died (12 variations for George Floyd).”

Learn More

View the introduction video for the piece that was produced by Luther’s Visual Media Manager Nick Bjerke.

A second video that goes into greater musical detail about how the piece was constructed.

Finally, the third video features the Unison Duo performing the work for Iowa Public Radio (starting at 21:20).

Professor Brooke Joyce shares why it was important for him, as a musician and artist, to compose a musical piece during the pandemic.
The Unison Piano Duo performed the work for Iowa Public Radio.

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