‘We can rebuild pianos, but we can’t rebuild lives’ – Yuja Wang on Philadelphia piano store

2 June 2020, 11:56 | Updated: 3 June 2020, 10:44

Yuja Wang responds to piano store image
Yuja Wang responds to piano store image. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

The concert pianist posted a widely shared image of a plundered piano store in Philadelphia, with a message: material things can be replaced; a life cannot.

Pianist Yuja Wang has spoken up, amid US and global protests against the death of George Floyd, for the “people whose voices aren’t being heard”.

In a Facebook post, Wang shared a widely publicised image of a piano store in Philadelphia, which was broken into during the protests. Footage emerged of two protestors inside Jacob Music stores, playing music on a Steinway piano amid broken glass, as others dragged a piano into the street.

But in her Facebook post, Wang urges her followers to “look at this powerful image and recognise everything that it is trying to say to us”.

“Human expression takes many forms. It has to, especially when marginalized voices are not being acknowledged, and are met with hatred and judgement,” she says.

Read more: ‘We cannot remain silent’ – musicians protest against George Floyd’s death >

Human expression takes many forms. It has to, especially when marginalized voices are not being acknowledged, and are...

Posted by Yuja Wang on Monday, 1 June 2020

Wang continues: “Pianos will continue to be crafted with love and care, music will be shared to unite and uplift people during this time of crisis, and stores will be rebuilt, through the hard work and generosity of their communities.

“What we can’t rebuild or replace, however, are human lives. Those are the most precious thing of all, and we must safeguard the lives of people whose voices aren’t being heard. #blacklivesmatter”

Read more: US orchestra fires trombonist after racist posts about Floyd protests >

Philadelphia’s protests, which are also happening across the US and globally, were sparked by the death of Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minnesota police officer on 25 May.

A post-mortem declared Floyd’s death a homicide, and confirmed he died from asphyxia (lack of oxygen), after officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

World Reacts To George Floyd Death
World Reacts To George Floyd Death. Picture: Getty

Floyd’s death has sparked protests across the US – and globally – against racism and police brutality, many under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests have escalated over the last week, with US President Donald Trump threatening to send in the military to quell the civil unrest.

A number of musicians have been joining the protests, taking to the streets and their social media accounts and using their platforms to protest Floyd’s murder. See powerful examples from Wynton Marsalis, Lawrence Brownlee and more here.