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Minnesota Orchestra to premiere George Floyd-inspired "Brea(d)th"

Minnesota Orchestra to premiere George Floyd-inspired "Brea(d)th"
Minnesota Orchestra to premiere George Floyd-inspired "Brea(d)th" 02:30

MINNEAPOLIS – A special work commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra makes its world premiere this week. 

It looks at equity, justice, peace and healing after the murder of George Floyd. 

WCCO News sat in on the first full rehearsal, and learned what it took to get here from composer Carlos Simon and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph.

"I think of art as a charged entity that can animate anyone who gets near it. And that's what I think this piece does. It animates the idea of American justice," Joseph said.

Simon and Joseph are the artists commissioned to bring "Brea(d)th" to Orchestra Hall. Uniting the orchestra, a choir of 150, along with spoken word in an epic work in response to Floyd's murder.  


"I leaned on Marc heavily as far as like the text is concerned. I didn't start writing a note until I heard what he had to actually say in the piece. The choir is accenting a lot of the words that he's saying. These are very poignant but very small phrases, but they have power," Simon said.

The two spent time in Minneapolis, with the community, and at George Floyd Square ahead of developing the groundbreaking work.

"I wanted to get the spirit of the city and what it felt like to embed that into the work," Simon said.

"There were certain things that community members said that kind of rang like echoes, that were echoes of emotions," Joseph said.

Rooted in Minneapolis, the piece is presented in three sections. Bringing the audience along for a journey to reflect, process and consider the possibility of an equitable future.

"If art can do anything, especially post pandemic, it can create a site where we can heal together in public, so it makes all the sense that the piece is premiering here and now," Joseph said.

"Brea(d)th" premieres Thursday at Orchestra Hall with performances through Saturday. A smaller piece will be part of the "Rise and Remember George Floyd" candlelight vigil on May 25. Click here for more information.

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