NHSO Performs Joel Thompson’s “breathe/burn: an Elegy to Breonna Taylor” Sunday, Nov. 19 at SCSU

Thursday • November 9, 2023

The New Haven Symphony Orchestra returns to the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts at Southern Connecticut State University on Sunday, November 19, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. with a program featuring and inspired by composer Joel Thompson’s breathe/burn: an elegy for Breonna Taylor. This challenging and inspiring concert will also feature Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1, Mark Adamo’s Last Year featuring cello soloist Jeffrey Zeigler, and a new adaptation of Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Why Did They Kill Sandra Bland? with New Haven activist, artist, and poet Sun Queen.

Music Director Alasdair Neale says, “This concert is a wide-ranging program that will, I hope, challenge and inspire in equal measure.” Led by Maestro Neale, the concert’s centerpiece will be breathe/burn, the NHSO’s latest commission from Joel Thompson, who served as the orchestra’s composer-in-residence from 2021-2023. breathe/burn is a co-commission between the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Sinfonietta, who played the world premiere in March 2021. (An excerpt from that performance is available to stream here.) The music is an elegy for Breonna Taylor, an award-winning EMT and first responder from Louisville, KY who was murdered in her home by police officers improperly executing a search warrant in 2020. Cellist Jeffrey Zeigler will be featured as a soloist in the Thompson, as well as the music on this program by Daniel Bernard Roumain and Mark Adamo.

Expanding on the themes that will be explored at the November 19 concert, the NHSO, in partnership with Black Lives Matter New Haven, Liberation U, and The Sun Experience LLC, will present two free preview events. More information about these events is available here.

Black Women and their Sovereignty: A Requiem for Breonna Taylor
Sunday • November 12 • 2:00 pm • The Lab at ConnCORP
This is an open dialogue with and for Black Women to discuss what has happened in the world of Black Women and Femmes since Breonna Taylor was murdered.

Sovereignty: Breonna’s Legacy Art Show
Saturday • November 18 • 1:00 pm • The Lab at ConnCORP
Attendees will experience various Greater New Haven-based poets, spoken word artists, musicians, and visual artists who center the liberation of Black bodies.

Former NHSO Composer-in-Residence Daniel Bernard Roumain, whose piece Why Did They Kill Sandra Bland? will open this program, says, “Black women deserved more, continue to suffer, and continue to be victimized. I pledge to listen more, defend more, and call attention to their trauma, brilliance, and truth. What will you do?”

Jeffrey Zeigler is one of the most innovative and versatile cellists of our time. As a member of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet from 2005-2013, Mr. Zeigler is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts (Grammys), the Chamber Music America National Service Award and The Asia Society’s Cultural Achievement Award.  Strings Magazine has described the album as “one of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time”. Upcoming highlights include being featured in a new opera, The Old Man and the Sea, and the world premiere of Andy Akiho’s Cello Concerto in 2024. Jeffrey Zeigler is Assistant Professor of Chamber Music and Innovation at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

Sun Queen (she/her) Sun is a poet, artist, activist and inspirational messenger based in New Haven, where she has lived all her life. In 2015, she co-founded Black Lives Matter New Haven (BLMNHV) to inspire and empower the community through advocacy, education, and community service. As an organizer, she has run annual backpack, back-to-school and winter coat drives, started a BLMNHV scholarship fund, led rallies and tied Black liberation to healing, collective care and communal artmaking. Sun’s work has been featured prominently in several exhibitions, testimonials, and media outlets, including Nasty Women Connecticut’s 2019 Complicit: Erasure of the Body and #MeToo Testimonials project, New Haven Register, Philadelphia Inquirer, Arts Paper, New Haven Independent, Yale Daily News, Hartford Courant and Pittsburgh Post Gazette. She has been a featured speaker for the Bereavement Care Network, Black Women’s March in Houston, Texas, and Elm City LIT Fest among others.

Tickets: Tickets start at $15. Tickets for youth under 18 are free with the purchase of an adult ticket. To purchase tickets, visit NewHavenSymphony.org or call (203) 693-1486 Monday-Friday from 12-5pm.

breathe/burn is sponsored by the Alice M. Ditson Fund at Columbia University; Southern CT State University; Frontier; New Haven Register; and Inner City News.

Skip to content