Bass-baritone Davóne Tines said the music and lyrics for the composition “Vigil” came to him in the wee hours of the morning, during an improv session with a close friend of his.
“My friend just started playing this very simple progression, and I started to sing over it,” Tines said. “And what happened was kind of unique in that the song came out fully formed in the first try.”
He said it felt incredibly special to, “on the spot” have the work materialize, and more specifically, to have the words “where there is darkness, we’ll bring light” come out of his mouth in verse.
The Louisville Orchestra debuts the orchestral arrangement of “Vigil,” which is a dedication to “the memory of Breonna Taylor,” Saturday night during the opening concert of the orchestra’s virtual fall season. Being called “A Concert for Healing,” the live-streamed performance will also feature “Starburst” by Jessie Montgomery and Beethoven’s Third Symphony.
“Vigil,” a collaboration with Tines’ friends Igee Diedonné and Matthew Aucoin, was created to speak to the nation at this moment in history when — as Tines sees it — there “is a lot of darkness and confusion.” It’s key to find a way to bring light to this moment.
“One of the only things that can fill the void of that darkness is art, is sound, is a place where people are allowed to free their minds and engage in a way that isn’t rhetoric or bombardment from the news,” Tines said. “Music can really be a conduit for connecting and changing.”
Tines said, as a gay Black man in America, he feels blessed to have the platform he does, and his work often speaks to racial justice issues.
The haunting composition of “Vigil,” a tribute to Breonna Taylor who was shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police officers in March, hits on a “sore spot that had been sore for a very, very long time.”
“I just personally needed to do something to foster some healing,” he said.
Tine recorded a piano version of “Vigil,” seen above, for Lincoln Center at Home.
Healing is really at the core of this entire concert, said Louisville Orchestra music director Teddy Abrams.
“Every person regardless of where you fit on the political spectrum, or what your connection to the issues at hand might be, has gone through this same sense of loss and exhaustion and frustration and confusion,” Abrams said. “And it’s something that every person who identifies as a Louisvillian has felt… to be in the national news the way we’ve been and to feel pummeled by it, is an experience [and] a new emotion.”
Throughout the pandemic, Abrams has expressed that he sees the arts playing an important role in the midst of multiple crises, and he feels that call now more than ever.
“My feeling is that this is the time for arts leaders to actually step up and do something, that we are part of that rebuilding and that healing process.” he said. “This is not about us waiting for things to get back to normal… This is an opportunity for us to actually use our voice and use our platform.”
For Davóne Tines, he’s thankful to be able to perform this work in Taylor’s hometown, where Tines also has family, and to — via a virtual stage — share this work with the world.
The orchestra will live stream the concert, from Old Forester’s Paristown Hall, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.