New York Philharmonic clarinetist and justice activist Anthony McGill performs free online concert
June 22, 2020
Discover the soaring, emotionally rich music of renowned clarinetist Anthony McGill in a free livestream performance. Presented in part by the Moss Arts Center, McGill will be joined by pianist Anna Polonsky for the event on Friday, June 26.
Accessible through the Moss Arts Center website, virtual doors for the event open at 7:30 p.m. and Anthony McGill will present a pre-concert talk with Thomas Holt, professor of American and African American History at the University of Chicago, beginning at 7:35 p.m. The concert will begin at 8 p.m.
The New York Philharmonic’s principal clarinetist, McGill is the orchestra’s first African American principal player and is an ardent advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music and is dedicated to helping music education reach underserved communities. With a brilliantly multifaceted solo and chamber music career, he’s one of classical music’s most recognizable figures, known for his performance at the inauguration of President Obama.
McGill recently made headlines for his stirring solo performance of “America the Beautiful” on Facebook. McGill challenged other musicians to join him in spotlighting the struggle for justice and decency, introducing the hashtag #TakeTwoKnees.
“Now more than ever, artists and music play a central role in bringing us together, prompting us to think, and lifting us up,” said Ruth Waalkes, executive director of the Moss Arts Center and associate provost for the arts at Virginia Tech. “I am so pleased that we’re able to partner with our colleagues across the country to bring this performance with Anthony and Anna to our collective communities.”
McGill appears regularly as a soloist with top orchestras and chamber ensembles around North America and has collaborated with Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He most recently appeared on the CMSDetroit series, opening the 2019-20 season with the Miro Quartet performing Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet.
In January 2015 McGill recorded the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto together with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. He also recorded an album with his brother, Demarre McGill, principal flute of the Seattle Symphony, and pianist Michael McHale, as well as an album featuring the Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Pacifica Quartet. A dedicated champion of new music, in 2014 McGill premiered a new piece written for him by Richard Danielpour entitled "From the Mountaintop."
McGill’s advocacy work with his #TakeTwoKnees campaign has recently been featured on National Public Radio and in the Boston Globe and Philadelphia Inquirer. He has also appeared on “Performance Today,” Minnesota Public Radio’s “St. Paul Sunday Morning,” and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.” In 2013 the inspirational story of McGill and his brother was featured on NBC Nightly News and on MSNBC.
A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, McGill previously served as the principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera and associate principal clarinet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In-demand as a teacher, he serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, Bard College’s Conservatory of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music. He also serves as the artistic advisor for the Music Advancement Program at the Juilliard School, on the board of directors for both the League of American Orchestra and the Harmony Program, and the advisory council for the InterSchool Orchestras of New York.
Pianist Anna Polonsky has appeared with such ensembles as the Moscow Virtuosi, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. She has collaborated with the Guarneri, Orion, Daedalus, and Shanghai Quartets, and performed with leading musicians, including Uchida, Yo-Yo Ma, David Shifrin, Richard Goode, Ax, Arnold Steinhardt, Peter Wiley, and Jaime Laredo. A recipient of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award, Polonsky has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia and is a frequent guest at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
This event is co-presented by the Chamber Music Society of Detroit; Chamber Music Tulsa; Moss Arts Center, Virginia Tech; University of Chicago Presents, with WFMT (as media partner); and Shriver Hall Concert Series. Supporting presenters are Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, Chamber Music Albuquerque, National Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.