June 13: Joseph Mueller, cello

Performing: Abraham’s Sons In Memoriam: Trayvon Martin by James Lee III

Paired with Artwork: Man is Man (Portrait of Roman Johnson) by Emerson C. Burkhart [Gallery 2: American Art]

Musician statement: Man Is Man (Portrait of Roman Johnson) by Emerson C. Burkhart is a painting that I believe displays the humanity that we all share. When I gaze deeply into the eyes of Roman Johnson, I see weariness, sorrow, but also a glimmer of hope. The hope I see is that, slow as it may be, change will come. Change must come. Because we are all one family. 

About the music: Abraham’s Sons (In Memoriam: Trayvon Martin) by James Lee III was composed in 2014, two years after the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. In the title of the piece, Lee references the children’s bible song, Father Abraham. The opening lyrics of this piece are as follows, “Father Abraham had many sons, Many sons had Father Abraham, I am one of them and so are you, So let’s all praise the Lord.” While this light hearted song for children seems quite simple, it also makes the connection that we are all one people. One can think of Father Abraham in a more metaphorical way as the father of the whole human species. In that sense, the song is saying that we are all children of the same forbearers. We are all one family. This is a powerful and evocative statement when considering the tumultuous time we are living in of the unjustified and unlawful killing of black men in America. The piece starts with a calm, mournful sound in the lower register of the cello. The middle of the piece is stormy and grief stricken. This section highlights the cellos high range and double stops. In the end, the piece dies away with the sound of haunting false harmonics. 

Joseph Mueller has firmly established himself as a virtuosic performer and sought after instructor. In addition to his duties as Adjunct Instructor of Cello at Capital University, Joseph is also principal cello of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. He has a BM in cello performance from Indiana University, and a MM in cello performance from the University of Oklahoma.