Opera singer honours Breonna Taylor’s memory with poignant ‘Vigil’

5 October 2020, 15:28 | Updated: 5 October 2020, 16:12

VIGIL, dedicated to the memory of Breonna Taylor

VIGIL is dedicated to the memory of Breonna Taylor. A work of art and a call to action, the world premiere of VIGIL pays tribute to Breonna Taylor, the EMT and aspiring nurse who was shot and killed by police in her home, and whose tragic death has fueled an international outcry. Created by renowned opera singer and activist Davóne Tines in collaboration with Matthew Aucoin, Igée Dieudonné and Conor Hanick, this music film presents an exercise in empathy—a model for how to engage with the powerful emotions we feel because of injustice, and how to take action. Through Tines’ rich sonic and visual lyricism, VIGIL asks us to connect with, understand, and act upon all of our sensations, inside and out. On October 3, Tines will perform the world premiere of an orchestral arrangement of VIGIL by Matt Aucoin, commissioned for and performed with the Louisville Orchestra, live-streamed for a virtual audience. VIGIL Created and edited by Davóne Tines Performed by Davóne Tines and Conor Hanick Music: Davóne Tines and Igée Dieudonné Arranged by Matt Aucoin

Posted by Davóne Tines on Wednesday, 30 September 2020

By Rosie Pentreath

Watch a moving tribute to Taylor, who was murdered by police in her home on 13 March this year – composed and performed by bass-baritone Davóne Tines.

The Louisville Orchestra has honoured Breonna Taylor with a performance of Davóne Tines’ heartrending, Vigil.

In its most recent virtual concert, the orchestra was joined by Tines himself – who as well as being a composer is a bass-baritone – for the performance of his poignant tribute to Taylor, who was murdered by police in her own home earlier this year.

Tines’ piece is subtitled as ‘An Exercise in Sympathy’ and sees Tine as soloist. It implores us to ‘Pay attention to your breath’ and ‘try to feel the surface your hand is touching’.

‘Did you wake up this morning?’ the video for Vigil asks us (watch above). “Breonna Taylor was shot dead in the middle of the night in her own home. She was unarmed. She was innocent,” it hits us with.

“Justice hasn’t been served. Do something about it,” Tines implores us – and leaves us with ways of checking in and taking action against racism.

Read more: Wynton Marsalis on Black Lives Matter and the power of music >

Tributes are paid to Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March this year.
Tributes are paid to Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March this year. Picture: Shutterstock

The orchestra’s premiere of Vigil is available to watch here online until 31 December 2020. The concert, filmed at Louisville’s Old Forester’s Paristown Hall, also includes Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ symphony, Samuel Barber’s Dover Beach, Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst and works for voice and orchestra.

Who was Breonna Taylor?

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old woman who was fatally shot by police in her own apartment in Louisville on 13 March 2020.

The police had repeatedly knocked on the door before entering by force, and apparently received a warning shot from Taylor’s partner who has claimed not to know it was the police. The police then discharged numerous rounds of fire and killed Taylor in their retaliation.

She is remembered alongside numerous other Black and minority ethnic people killed by or because of police in America, and around the world.

“Where there is darkness, we’ll bring light,” Tine’s Vigil opens. “Hallelujah” is sung over a heartbreaking list of the names of other innocent people who have also been killed.

Tines performs with tears in his eyes – and that is how we listen. RIP Breonna Taylor.