Posted on April 3, 2024

Connecticut High School Teacher Makes Music Class Play Woke, College-Commissioned Piece on George Floyd

Austin Browne, Campus Reform, March 8, 2024

A music class at a public high school in Connecticut is making students perform a college-commissioned piece about George Floyd.

New Fairfield High School Choral Director Andrew Gadwah is requiring chorus students to practice and perform “Weather: Stand the Storm.” The song’s lyrics, which discuss the death of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest during 2020, include phrases such as “white silence equals violence” and “[w]hatever contracts keep us social compel us now to disorder the disorder.”

Another section reads, “Black. Just us and the blues kneeling on a neck with the full weight of a man in blue. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds.”

Various musical elements of the piece also relate to George Floyd, such as the tempo marking of 46 to represent “[t]he age of George Floyd at the time of his death” and metric shifts to represent “the amount of time George Floyd was under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.”

The song, originally a poem but later set to music, was written by Claudia Rankine, who has served on the faculty of various institutions of higher education.

Rankine is also a co-founder of the Racial Imaginary Institute, which describes itself as “a multidisciplinary platform engaging with art and scholarship to examine race’s role and impact.” In a 2016 interview with The Guardian titled “why I’m spending $625,000 to study whiteness,” Rankine said she hoped the institute would be a “space which allows us to show art, to curate dialogues, have readings, and talk about the ways in which the structure of white supremacy in American society influences our culture.”

The College of New Jersey and various other higher education institutions helped commission “Weather,” which was set to music by composer and Temple University professor Rollo Dilworth.

The piece is set to be performed by the students at an April concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City.