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Harrison's '10,000 Black Men Named George' released by Kreutzer, on film recording

We are delighted that the fabulous Kreutzer Quartet have just released the film recording of Sadie Harrison’s new quartet 10,000 Black Men Named George:The Multiple Burdens of Injustice, written as a response to the murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. This is the latest recording of a series of works written by Sadie during the lockdown period in 2020.

Sadie writes: 

'10,000 Black Men Named George was written as a response to the murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. It is in four sections each based on Martin Luther King’s favourite hymn Precious Lord, take my hand. King’s last words prior to his assassination were a request that it be sung at a mass he was to attend that night (4 April 1968):   

Precious Lord, take my hand,

Lead me on, let me stand,

I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;

Through the storm, through the night,

Lead me on to the light.

Take my hand, precious Lord,

Lead me home.

'After its simple rendition, the hymn is transformed firstly into a dark, dissonant Lament - the lines are entangled, the tune fragmented, struggling to be heard. Hope follows, Precious Lord framed with references to the joyful Shaker song Simple Gifts.  

’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free 

’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, 

And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 

’Twill be in the valley of love and delight. 

'The final section Lullaby is marked ‘with all gentleness’. The hymn returns in simple form played on the viola, Clifton Harrison’s beautiful outpouring in my mind as I wrote:

‘This isn’t just America crying out. The whole world is weeping. I am human. I am a black man. I am a musician. I'm an American. I am scared. I am disquieted. I am hurt. I am angry. I am awake. I am resolute. I am strong. I am worried for humanity. I am worried for our people. I am not to be feared. I am not less than. I am not an ‘other’. I am not to be marginalised. I will not be silenced. I will not give up. George Floyd’s life mattered. Every life matters. (31 May 2020)

'The title of the piece comes from two sources. 10,000 Black Men refers to the custom of 1920s America when porters for the Pullman Rail Company all of whom were black, were addressed as “George". The subtitle The Multiple Burdens of Injustice was a phrase spoken by the black artist Chris Ofili on 4 June 2020. 10,000 Black Men was written In Memorium George Perry Floyd (1974-2020).'