Listening Lesson: 'In Memoriam'

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Age Range: All Ages

Learning Objective: Students will listen to Philip Herbert’s piece “In Memoriam,” rerecorded in remembrance of George Floyd, and consider how music and art can help process feelings surrounding difficult issues.

1. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. It was an event that sparked protests all over the world.

Over the course of the last year, many communities have discussed and reflected upon complex issues like systemic racism, police brutality, and social justice. 

Music and art can be helpful tools to both process and express feelings and emotions, especially around difficult issues. 

2. Several years ago, composer Philip Herbert composed a piece in honor of Stephen Lawrence, a British teenager who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993. In June 2020, less than a month after George Floyd’s death, the Sphinx Virtuosi recorded Herbert’s piece. They performed it in remembrance of George Floyd, Stephen Lawrence and many other victims.

3. Listen and watch the Sphinx Virtuosi perform the piece in the video below. Use the questions beneath the video for discussion, reflection, or journaling. 

4. Questions for discussion, reflection, or journaling. 

  • How would you describe the mood of Philip Herbert’s piece? What did this music express to you? How did it make you feel? 

  • What was your personal response to George Floyd’s death and the events that followed? Did you express your feelings publicly? 

  • What are some issues you feel strong about? Do you ever use music or art to express feelings on those issues? 

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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