String Triage Ensemble Soothes Wounded Community

Members of the Black String Triage Ensemble in 2019. Source: Living Lutheran

In September 2018, Milwaukee, Wisconsin resident Dayvin Hallmon felt called to initiate a new ministry to assist families grappling with the aftermaths of a series of local shootings: with an ensemble of black and brown string musicians.

Hallmon shares his initial inspiration for the Black String Triage Ensemble was during a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., while serving as Kenosha County Board Supervisor in March of 2018 .

“We’re walking through [the museum] and there’s Nat Turner’s Bible, there’s Harriet Tubman’s hymnal, there’s Thomas Dorsey’s piano,” he recalled. “Something said to me in the middle of all these artifacts: ‘address the life condition.’” 

Wondering how he could make an impact, Hallmon decided to do something “through music.”

Thus the Black String Triage Ensemble was born. Composed of musicians on a voluntary basis, the group goes to the scenes of the crimes after fatal shootings, alongside first responders, and starts playing. Performing pieces by black and Hispanic composers, Hallmon curates the pieces to address the five stages of grief while simultaneously seeking to be present with people in the midst of traumatizing situations.

“Something said to me in the middle of all these artifacts: ‘address the life condition.’”

Erickson, one of Hallmon’s colleagues, said he had to help after noticing how Hallmon just wanted “to use the gifts God has given him to preach the gospel [in response to] violence.”  

Hallmon, the former director of music at St. Mary Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wis., worked with Erickson to secure practice space at a local Lutheran church and helped connect Hallmon with local area chaplains.

Currently, the ensemble is on call for performances between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when it’s safe to play strings outside.

Source: Living Lutheran