UNITED: A Remembrance Concert evokes art’s healing power

Monday, February 17, 2020

To mark the first anniversary of the campus shooting that took place last year on April 30, UNC Charlotte will host a Day of Remembrance. On Thursday, April 30, 2020, events on campus will honor the lives of the students who died and the sacrifices of those injured. In addition, a commemorative concert, UNITED: A Remembrance Concert, conceived by Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and developed collaboratively by members of the campus community and Charlotte’s performing arts community, will be presented at 7:30 p.m., at Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in uptown Charlotte.

“While nothing can be done to erase the memories and feelings of that day, it is my hope that this exhibition of song, dance and art will serve as a meaningful tribute to Reed Parlier, Riley Howell and all those who were affected by the events of April 30, 2019,” said Dubois. “I also hope this reflective showcase of talented artists and students will be a reminder of the enduring strength and spirit that exists in our Niner Nation community.”

The program, under the direction of Lynne Conner, chair of the Department of Theatre, will feature artists from the community and UNC Charlotte in a variety of music, dance and multimedia performances. The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, will perform an original composition by the Department of Music’s John Allemeier. The Charlotte-based band Water from Fire, whose members include three UNC Charlotte alumni, will play favorite songs of Riley Howell and Reed Parlier, the students who perished on April 30, 2019. The evening’s host is CBS News Correspondent Don Dahler, who graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1991. 

"The mark of a strong community isn’t that it suffers needless, tragic deaths, but how it responds to them; that’s why I wanted to come back to UNC Charlotte for the Remembrance Concert,” said Dahler. “Professors, students and alumni have decided to honor the courage exhibited that day, and the outpouring of love and care in the days and months and soon to be year afterwards. I am proud to be a part of the UNC Charlotte family and want to be a part of this important evening.”

On April 30, UNC Charlotte will not hold classes; a number of student-driven, on-campus activities will take place that day to allow faculty, staff and students to remember, grieve and support one another in the way they find most meaningful.

Tickets for the concert are limited and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost to attend is $25 for the public and $10 for UNC Charlotte students, plus taxes and facility fees. Tickets are available on the Blumenthal website, and all proceeds will benefit the April 30 Remembrance Fund, which supports the work of the Remembrance Commission. The concert is produced with the support of Bank of America and Atrium Health.

Members of the faculty and students, alumni and other participating artists share their thoughts about the opportunity to convey the healing power of art through UNITED: A Remembrance Concert:

Lynne Conner, Chair, Department of Theatre

Artistic Director, UNITED: A Remembrance Concert

Lynne Conner, Chair, Department of Theatre

“Through my work as the artistic director, I feel that I’m in a meaningful conversation, literally and figuratively, with the UNC Charlotte community. It’s important to me that we are one community trying to make sense of what happened, moving forward together even as we process in our own ways. I’m hoping the concert on April 30 will be the ultimate expression of community. There have been moments in this process that have been really hard emotionally, of course, but I’m honored to serve the community in this role.”

John Allemeier, Professor of Composition

Composer of an original work to be performed by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

John Allemeier, Professor of Composition

“As I composed the piece for the concert, I reflected on my own experience from last spring in an effort to build connections with the community’s shared experience. In creating a piece of art intended to provide a path forward emotionally, I tried in earnest to capture the emotional soul of a community working to heal.”

Melinda Erikson, Dance Student

Performing “River,” which expresses the theme of unity

Melinda Erikson, Dance Student

“The events of April 30 affected me deeply, as a human, a mother, and a member of the Charlotte community. It is an honor and a privilege to be included in the April 30 Remembrance Concert, and with that comes responsibility, especially to the families of Reed and Riley. The healing process is challenging; it’s not linear and it’s different from one person to the next. I know art can heal and I hope this piece can provide some level of healing.

“The piece we’re performing is capoeira, an artform developed by enslaved Africans in colonial Brazil. In capoeira, it’s important to remember the past and those who gave their lives so that we may live. The piece is titled “River,” which represents the tremendous power of the collective. The water in a river is the result of many tributaries coming together to form one path. Rivers are resilient in their path toward joining another larger body of water, changing course when an obstacle appears, symbolizing the emotional journey of life.”

John Woodall ’14, Water from Fire 

Co-founder of Water from Fire, a band that includes three UNC Charlotte alumni; they will perform favorite songs of Riley Howell and Reed Parlier

John Woodall and ???, Water from Fire

“For me, music has always been a steadying force in my life, constantly providing a source of connection and inspiration. I’ve truly come to realize the healing power of music and its ability to create meaning at times that can otherwise seem meaningless. My hope for this concert is to pay respect to the families and friends who lost loved ones. I pray we can also provide a sense of inspiration for the families that gives them peace and allows them to remember the absolute best parts of their loved ones. 

“One of the songs we’ll be playing at the concert is titled ‘Home.’ It deals with anxiety and depression, but it’s an uplifting song that encourages individuals to find a source of security that they can call home to get through the tough times. My hope is that the families find that security  and that community on which they can lean, and if our song can help, then I’d be honored.”

Individuals who are unable to attend the concert are welcome and encouraged to donate to the April 30 Remembrance Fund. For more information, visit ninernationremembers.uncc.edu.