Renowned classical composer Carlos Simon honors memory of George Floyd with new work 'Brea(d)th'

Atlanta-born composer Carlos Simon teaches at Georgetown University and is composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center. (Kendall Bessent)

The American composer Carlos Simon has been leading a brave new chapter for contemporary classical music, capturing, preserving and making palpable a history of Black American life in all its trials and triumphs. Last year, I spoke with the composer about his  “Requiem for the Enslaved,” which confronted his employer, Georgetown University, with its grim history of selling human beings. Simon recently premiered a commissioned piece honoring the memory of George Floyd, titled “Brea(d)th.” In this interview, Carlos Simon joins “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about his latest work and a career of impassioned storytelling through music that precedes it. 

There’s this idea of serving someone else with whatever gifts that you have, and I take that with me as I create a piece…thinking ‘how is this going to help someone else?’” Simon said. 

Renowned classical music composer Carlos Simon’s new large-scale work is titled “Brea(d)th,” which he wrote in memory of George Floyd. You can find more information about his career here.