For the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, this may have been the ultimate, “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show” moment. They whipped together a free, lunch-time concert on the plaza in front of the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Wednesday in barely 24 hours.
It was Michael Lisicky, an oboist and chair of the orchestra’s players’ committee, who started the whole thing.
He says he was sitting in a coffee shop in Fells Point Tuesday, stewing about the violence that has racked Baltimore since the death in police custody of Freddie Gray more than a week ago. And he was thinking, “What do you do? What do we do?”
And then it came to him; a concert. What else do musicians do?
He got on the phone, got on line and started firing off e-mails to orchestra members. Can we get together at noon tomorrow?
Ellen Pendleton Troyer, one of the violinists, found Tuesday night and made it for the concert. “I think music is a healing thing,” she said. “We do what we can. We’re all doing what we can. Those of us who can are helping to clean up. This is the way we’re cleaning up. We’re helping to heal people’s souls.”
Lisicky said he had no idea how many musicians would show. For all he knew, he could have had a trio playing for maybe 12 people. “And if that’s what happened and we reached out to 12 people,” he said, “That’s great.”
Instead, somewhere between 30 and 40 musicians showed up to perform. But they weren’t sure what they were going to perform.
“We were pulling music out an hour ago,” Lisicky said, “thinking whether it was appropriate or not.”
And the crowd turned out as well. The plaza was packed with people enjoying the music. There was Daniel Jones, from East Baltimore. He’s a fan of classical music, he said. “So this is actually an opportunity to go see it without paying for it.”
He said the concert would bring some light to an otherwise dark time in the city.
“Music actually helps you channel your feelings what you have,” he said. “ I believe you keep music inside the schools, along with recreational activities, you probably wouldn’t have had the situation you had yesterday. It probably never would’ve went down.”
Charles Cooper, who lives nearby in Bolton Hill, said music is food for the soul.
“So, what better way to bring people together than with song and music and just having a good time, fellowshipping with everybody and you know. We need this.”
Not only does music feed the soul, said trombonist Aaron LaVere , it covers everything. Imagine, he said, watching a movie without music, or driving in your car without music.
“And so this is the one thing that I think pulls communities together,” he said. “I think it’s important to share this with basically everybody in the community; bring them together.”
So, they pulled out music they’ve played, but maybe not lately; Handel’s Fireworks and Water music, Bach’s Air on the G String, the finale to Beethoven’s second symphony and one other tune that you have to play in Baltimore, the National Anthem with that big loud OH! Say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave…