The Metropolitan Music Community (MMC) had Benchmark print their 2021 Winter Concert program. MMC provides adult instrumentalists the opportunity to make music in a friendly setting and share it with the public. The program brims with socially conscious themes: George Floyd, music from marginalized parts of the world, and more.
“Unspoken,” the first piece, recognizes George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, the largest U.S. protest movement ever, even larger than the one surrounding the Vietnam War. Katahj Copley, the composer, writes, “[Floyd’s killing] not only changed my life, but the world around us. For hundreds of years, the black community has been hushed, pushed, and brutalized by systemic racism. We have had our voices taken away from us. This piece represents a voice for the voiceless.”
One piece in the program definitely made me smile: “Danzón No. 2,” by Arturo Márquez. Danzón is beautiful Mexican dance music that comes out of the state of Veracruz, which borders the state my family comes from, San Luis Potosí. Márquez calls it “a type of music full of sensuality and qualitative seriousness, a genre which old Mexican people continue to dance with a touch of nostalgia and a jubilant escape.”
Then there was a piece called “Alegre,” by Tania León. León is a Cuban-born composer, a professor emerita at Brooklyn College and at the CUNY Graduate Center. In 2016, she conducted Cuba’s Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional. She won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in music for “Stride,” naming it for Susan B. Anthony and her contributions in the women’s movement. She explains, “[The name reflected] the way that I imagined her as a person who did not take ‘no’ for an answer. She kept pushing and pushing and moving forward, walking with firm steps until she got the whole thing done. That is precisely what ‘Stride’ means. Something that is moving forward.”
Metropolitan Music Community’s work is consistent with Goal 11 from the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, “Sustainable cities and communities.” The goal includes Target 11.4, “Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.”