Ferguson Protesters Serenade St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 10.06.14 in News

In new and striking ways, music continues to play a role in the response to 18-year-old Michael Brown’s shooting by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Just before the end of intermission at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night, a group of demonstrators in the audience stood up and sang a modified version of “Which Side Are You On?” — an adapted hymn that became an anthem for the ’60s civil rights movement — to a mixed response that included applause but also silence. Protesters unfurled banners and threw paper hearts from the balcony with the words, “Requiem for Mike Brown May 20, 1996 – August 9, 2014.” The demonstration ended with a three-word chant: “Black lives matter.” Watch it below.

St. Louis Symphony spokeswoman Erika Ebsworth-Goold told BuzzFeed the protesters “had lovely voices.” According to Ebsworth-Goold, the 50 or so demonstrators all appeared to have purchased tickets. They dispersed without incident after their demonstration, which included the lyric, “Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.” The symphony’s performance that night was Brahms’s “Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem),” and social-media chatter after the event has referred to the protest as “Requiem for Mike Brown.”

Killer Mike, Big BoiJanelle Monáe, Frank Ocean, and T.I. were among the first musical acts taking to social media to raise awareness about the August 9 killing. Killer Mike and Talib Kweli even discussed the death of the unarmed Brown on CNN, while Common sent a video message to Ferguson and called for a moment of silence in Brown’s honor at the MTV Video Music Awards. Cat Power and Sky Ferreira contributed concert proceeds to a Ferguson church. Songs released in recognition of the protests over Brown’s death have come from J. Cole, G-Unit, the Game, Tom Morello and, most powerfully so far, Lauryn Hill.