The inspiration…..

After being troubled by the onslaught of killings of unarmed black men and finding Shirin Barghi’s #lastwords project, Joel Thompson began his journey in writing his most important composition today, The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed. Using the text structure of the Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, Joel chose seven last words from Shirin’s artwork that formed the structure of the work.

The music……

The last words and/or correspondences of each victim spoke to Joel deeply, and he chose seven that most easily aligned with the text structure of Hadyn’s work. Each victim’s last words are set in a different musical style and Thompson incorporates the L’homme armé (The armed man) Renaissance french secular tune throughout the composition. Originally scored for male chorus, string quintet and piano, the work has also been scored for full orchestra.

The collaboration……

Dr. Eugene Rogers and the Michigan Men’s Glee Club joined forces with Joel Thompson to cultivate, premiere and record the piece. The work has received critical acclaim and has been the source of much conversation and inspiration since its premiere in 2015. A documentary highlighting the work and the Glee Club’s journey with this powerful piece and Dr. Roger’s arrangement of Glory entitled Love, Life & Loss has been aired on Detroit Public Television, shown at the MichiganTheatre and received five Michigan Emmy Awards including best composition and arrangement and best current/public/community affairs documentary. This website is intended to be a resource for students, activists, and performers alike.