The Armed Man premieres at downtown school

University professors collaborate on multi-media presentation that explores Cincinnati race relations | May 11, 2004

Two Xavier University professors have collaborated with a Cincinnati artist and a high school music director to create a multi-media work entitled “The Armed Man” that explores the theme of civil unrest in Cincinnati.

Kaleel Skeirik, associate professor of music, and Tyrone Williams, professor and chair of the English department, have teamed up with Bruno Zabaglio, a Cincinnati artist, and Bret Hiler of the School for the Creative and Performing Arts to create a dramatic representation of the shooting of Timothy Thomas. The 19-year-old Cincinnati youth was shot and killed on April 7, 2001, while running from a Cincinnati police officer. The shooting sparked unrest and led to several days of rioting in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood where Thomas died.

The piece, commissioned by the high school’s symphonic wind ensemble, musically conjures up images of the urban environment, the spirit of the community and the feelings and moods of the individuals involved throughout the neighborhood.

In the 17-minute piece, Williams's text moves through the violence of the event to the community reaction and concludes with a call for healing and reconciliation through unified community action. Zabaglio's paintings representing aspects of the events are projected on a large screen accompanied by William's text. Skeirik's music sonically describes the urban environment and feelings and moods of the individuals involved and the spirit of the community.

"Kaleel had approached me and wanted to bring together some of the historical and contemporary issues by connecting a traditional piece with the events in Cincinnati in the wake of April 7," Williams said.

The world premiere of "The Armed Man" is Wednesday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the school's Abigail Cutter Theater, 1310 Sycamore St. downtown. General admission is $3. The concert is free for students.

Along with “The Armed Man,” there are performances of Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" read by Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Alton Frailey, "Sinfonia for Winds" by Donizetti, "Over the Hills" by student composer Gwyn Ravenscraft, "Children's March" by Grainger, and "Second Suite in F" by Holst.