J’Nai Bridges, Norman Shankle, Kenneth Overton Headline World Premiere of Aldolphus Hailstork & Martin’s ‘A Knee on The Neck’ Honoring George Floyd

By Chris Ruel

An all-star cast will join the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale, The Washington Chorus, and The Howard University Chorale to present the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork and Herbert Martin’s “A Knee on The Neck” at The Music Center at Strathmore on Mar. 26, 2022, and at Capital One Hall on Mar. 28.

Headlining the premiere are A-list soloists J’Nai Bridges, Norman Shankle, and Kenneth Overton. Maestro Piotr Gajewski will conduct.

Written and composed as a tribute to George Floyd, a Black man whose murder in May 2020 by a Minneapolis police officer sparked nationwide protests, “A Knee on The Neck” is a colossal requiem cantata commemorating Floyd’s life and legacy. A performance of Mozart’s “Requiem,” featuring Janai Brugger, will follow the premiere.

Regarding the programming, Artistic Director of The Washington Chorus Dr. Eugene Rogers said in a press statement, “For me, the pairing of Hailstork and Martin’s “A Knee on The Neck” with Mozart’s “Requiem” offers us the opportunity to honor those we have lost, to reflect upon the legacies they leave behind, and to re-examine our own life’s journey moving forward.”

Hailstork said, “What can an artist do? I can speak on the issues and put them in my work. These are the tragedies and triumphs of a people who have been beaten up for 400 years. Does anyone speak for them? Who writes pieces that speak for the existence of African Americans in the United States? I’ll take on that job.”