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Unmasking the Arts Episode 1: Anthony McGill

Our partners at Princeton University Concerts have created a new six-part series, Unmasking the Arts, with host Helga Davis and special guests in conversation about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Episode 1 features clarinetist (and longtime friend of UMS) Anthony McGill, who spearheaded the #TakeTwoKnees movement last summer in his response to the death of George Floyd. He challenges fellow musicians and Americans to draw attention to the problem of racism in their own personal ways and to open the door for music to serve as a powerful voice within the fight for social justice. McGill shares what this past year has meant for him as a citizen, a musician, and a human being:

Shared with kind permission of Princeton University Concerts.

Princeton University Concerts

About the Artists

Helga Davis

Helga Davis first appeared on UMS stages in our 2012 presentation of Philip Glass’s opera, Einstein on the Beach. We look forward to welcoming her back in the 2021/22 season as a featured performer in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Davis is a vocalist and performance artist with feet planted on the most prestigious international stages and with firm roots in the realities and concerns of her local community whose work draws out insights that illuminate how artistic leaps for an individual can offer connection among audiences.

Listen to the new season of her podcast series, Helga: The Armory Conversations, co-produced by WNYC Studios and Park Avenue Armory.

Anthony McGill

Anthony McGill’s appearances with UMS date back to 1996, including a trio recital with cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnaton, a recital with the Takács Quartet, and performances with the New York Philharmonic.

View programs on UMS Rewind

Clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. He serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic — that orchestra’s first African-American principal player — and maintains a dynamic international solo and chamber music career. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), as well as for his “exquisite combination of technical refinement and expressive radiance” (The Baltimore Sun), McGill also serves as an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. He was honored to take part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero.

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McGill’s most recent recording features Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Clarinet Quintet in f-sharp minor with the Catalyst Quartet, who will perform in UMS’s 2021/22 season alongside Imani Winds.