The Black String Triage Ensemble is committed to using music as the healing force for the soul in the immediate aftermath of community violence. The Black String Triage Ensemble plays concerts, for the community at the scene of the incident.
The affliction of hopelessness is exceptionally pervasive in America. Where the primary focus of The Black String Triage Ensemble is fatal shootings, this does not dismiss the need to respond to suicides; opioid deaths; car accidents; infant deaths; and house fires.
To address these life circumstances and conditions, the music has been organized around The 5 stages of grief -denial; anger; bargaining; depression; and acceptance. A sixth stage of grief, faith, has been added at the end. the addition of Faith is symbolic of the belief we as humans must have to move forward in our daily lives.
Founder and Music Director
Dayvin M.A. Hallmon is the musical grandchild of Jascha Heifetz, Dr. Thomas Dorsey and Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Since the age of 9, Mr. Hallmon has been building ensembles in churches and helping congregations craft a strategic vision for their music ministry. Perfectly at home in both Gospel and Western Classical, Dayvin was Assistant Concertmaster of the Church of God In Christ International Orchestra for seven years.
Mr. Hallmon has been studying music since the age of 5. He plays Violin, viola, clarinet, piano, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute, and pipe organ. Dayvin was born in Chicago, grew up in Racine, Wisconsin and is currently a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Violin, Viola, Cello and the Bass are instruments whose sound waves are the closest to the human voice. Also, each of these instruments has its own mature personality in ways that woodwinds and brass instruments do not. The violin can represent fiery anger (Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor) and romance (Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto) . The viola has been used to represent loyalty (the dog in the second movement of Spring in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons; Sancho Panza in Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote). The cello has been used to represent the human soul (Elgar The Dream of Gerontius). The bass, is what makes us as humans, dance (Charles Mingus & Meghan Trainor).
Norman Del Mar in his Anatomy of the Orchestra writes this about the string section as a family of instruments:
“The string body is outstandingly flexible and intuitive. Miracles of instinctive and instantaneous response can be achieved by a highly trained string orchestra. When groups of wind players take over the string rand-and-file roles, as in the military band, they never achieve any comparable finesse of nuance, whether in interplay to each other in tone and dynamics, to a conductor’s freedom of expression or rubato, to variations of style or technique, or within the orchestra itself or in concert and operatic work.”
For these reasons the string family is the perfect group of instruments to deploy immediately after a tragic event.
Asking someone to come to a concert hall or a church is like asking someone to come to your house. Not every person feels comfortable in every neighborhood, or in every church. To have a concert outside is a community experience. A tragic event like a shooting of a person is always in some form, a community experience.
The feelings of rage, sadness, and despair can only be touched by coming into contact with them. Physically touching those emotions is impossible with the human hand. Music is medicine for the mind, body and soul.
Therefore, in order to speak to the life circumstances that give rise to such a horrifying event, a concert at the scene is necessary to dissipate and repel those negative forces. By being present among the people and playing music at a time when it is need the most, we can transform the public space into a place of recovery, healing and hope for the community.
The Black String Triage Ensemble is a group of violin, viola, cello, and upright/double bass players from the city and county of Milwaukee. The African Diaspora consists of all persons of African decent. The Diaspora includes Latinx people. The Black String Triage Ensemble is open to any and all Black or Latinx string players regardless of age and regardless of playing ability. There are no dues or fees required of it’s members. Musicians are expected to commit to all rehearsals and be on alert during the selected, “On Call” weekends.
Throughout the summer, The Black String Triage Ensemble, designates weekends of its choosing to be "On Call" to respond to shootings that occurred in the Milwaukee community. This ensemble is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.
Why Black String Players?
Not all, but most of the victims of shootings in Milwaukee are black or Latinx people. In modern life it is rare to come across a black string player. To come across a group of black string players is even more of a rarity. For the first 250 years in America, it was extremely commonplace for Black Americans to play stringed instruments.
Many households that had slaves, had at least one slave who was skilled on an instrument-usually the violin. In the era after the Civil War, string bands consisting of violins, violas, cellos, basses, and banjos were very popular in America. In today’s America, string instruments are highly tied into associations with education and social class. They are expensive instruments to procure. Expensive to repair and a person, typically in most cases, needs a teacher. So it is not something that can be learned on one's own.
Despite the past history of Black Americans playing stringed instruments, today’s America does not acknowledge that past at all. The question all Black string players must confront is one of achievement. Many people, hold serious doubts and prejudices. Many do not believe that playing a stringed instrument is something that Black Americans can do. Given what this orchestra’s mission is, the visual confrontation is needed to get everyone, including Black and Latinx Americans themselves, to start thinking differently.