It was a moment that many at Powell Symphony Hall did not expect. Mike Brown demonstrators started singing and chanting just before the orchestra and chorus started performing a piece. The incident happened around 8:45 on Saturday night inside Powell Hall.
“It was certainly unexpected. I think it took everyone in the hall by surprise,” said Erika Ebsworth-Goold, the publicist for the St. Louis Symphony.
She was backstage when it all took place. She says the intermission was ending and the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus were preparing to perform Brahms` German Requiem when the demonstrators stood up and started singing.
‘The orchestra had assembled, the chorus was on the stage, our soloists were on the stage, and so was our conductor. We were just getting ready to start when this happened,’ explained Ebsworth-Goold.
She says the demonstrators were in different parts of the arena and that they were all paying audience members. The group displayed banners regarding the Mike Brown case and chanted “black lives matter.” After a few minutes, demonstrators left the hall peacefully.
But, before leaving, the group dropped red paper hearts over the balcony that read in part “requiem to Mike Brown.” There was some clapping in the hall during the demonstration both from audience members and performers.
“There were a number of patrons inside the hall who were apparently very moved by what these people had to say,” said Ebsworth-Goold.
Symphony officials call what happened a delay to the concert and not an interruption since the symphony and chorus had not resumed performing yet when the demonstration took place. That is something they are grateful for.
As for potential security changes at Powell Hall, Ebsworth said, “These were people who had paid money to come see the concert. They were patrons of ours, and we
ll discuss it certainly but I cant see any major security protocol changes at this point.” Ebsworth-Goold tells us there were about 50 demonstrators last night and there were no arrests. The symphony had another performance at 3pm Sunday afternoon.