First Person: Liz Player Brings Chamber Music to New Audiences - The New York Community Trust
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April 20, 2022   |   By The New York Community Trust
First Person: Liz Player Brings Chamber Music to New Audiences
Liz Player

Liz Player, photo by Simbarashe Cha

Liz Player is the founder and executive and artistic director of the Harlem Chamber Players, which recently received a $180,000 Trust grant to help diversify audiences for classical chamber music.

“One of the first orchestras I played with was the New York City Housing Authority Symphony Orchestra, which was mostly composed of Black and Latino musicians. It played at public housing developments and really opened my eyes.

I remember seeing all these talented musicians who looked just like me and it was so refreshing, fun, and felt so welcoming.

I met a violist there and we organized a series in Harlem in 2008. A handful of people came to the first concert, including my parents and friends. By the time we got to the third, we had about 50 people, which we were excited about. People really enjoyed seeing a lot of Black musicians performing classical music. It gave a sense of pride to the community.

The Harlem Chamber Players started off performing Beethoven and Bach, but we began exploring music by Black composers to make the music more culturally relevant. As a community-based organization, we have to bring it home for people in our own neighborhood.

For instance, our artistic advisor, Terrance McKnight, did this cool project where he juxtaposed Beethoven’s piano music with Langston Hughes’ poetry, and that really resonated. Last year, we marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre with a piece by the Black composer Adolphus Hailstork. Everyone was moved because we were paying homage to people who endured such an atrocity. I think there can be a healing process to this work. We are addressing racial injustices in our own way, trying to do something positive.

There are a few things that I really love doing more than anything else. I love bringing people together and to celebrate being with each other. I love seeing people of all types of backgrounds coming together. I love bringing joy to people, because we just need it. We’ve all been through a lot these days.”

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Marty Lipp
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mbl@nyct-cfi.org

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(646) 214-1004
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Media Contact Information

Need help or advice?

Marty Lipp
Communications Director
(212) 889-3963 
mbl@nyct-cfi.org

Amy Wolf
Assistant Director for Digital Media and Marketing
(646) 214-1004
aw@nyct-cfi.org

Get our media kit

Statue of Liberty in Red