Kris Monson's "Suite for Charlottesville"

Written by staff

Kris Monson (UVA Music & Systems Engineering 2015) returns to the University of Virginia to present the Charlottesville premiere of his “Suite for Charlottesville”, a reflection on the August 2017 white supremacist uprising and violence. The suite is written for a seven-piece ensemble of Monson’s close collaborators in New York City and will also feature Charlottesville musicians and mentors of his, John D’earth (trumpet) and Jamal Millner (guitar). The suite was first performed with McArthur “genius” drummer/composer Tyshawn Sorey at the 2018 Banff International Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music, and has received acclaim from leaders in the music, including trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and pianist Phil Markowitz. Reflecting on the importance of the suite, Markowitz is emphatic: “Kris Monson depicts in his Charlottesville Suite the angst and moral outrage of this tragic event. This is what music can be: a reflection and expression of important seminal moments in history.”


You can listen to Kris Monson's "Suite for Charlottesville" on Friday, November 22nd, at 8pm in Brooks Hall on the grounds of the University of Virginia.  The concert presented by WTJU and the Charlottesville Jazz Society and supported by UVA Arts and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts, is free and open to the public.  Kris and his ensemble will also perform on Saturday, November 23rd at 8pm presented by the Capital Bop Traveling Loft in Washington D.C.

Kris Monson is a bassist and composer from Fairfax, VA, now based in New York City. A product of the rich central Virginia jazz community, Kris studied with Pete Spaar and John D’earth while a double major in systems engineering and music at the University of Virginia. Kris continued his studies at the Manhattan School of Music where he received a Master's degree in Jazz Bass Performance, studying under the tutelage of Buster Williams and Harvie S, and classical bass with Orin O’Brien and David Grossman. Kris has had the honor of performing in ensembles led by many of the top musicians in the international jazz scene, including Marc Cary, Vince Mendoza, Lalah Hathaway, Jim McNeely, Tyshwan Sorey, Elio Vilafranca, Charles Owens, and Ari Hoenig.


About the Music
"I was in DC on August 11 – 12, 2017, watching the national news coverage in disbelief as the Unite the Right Rally events unfolded.  As I attempted to reconcile with what had happened in Charlottesville, I decided to write music to respond to the violence and unrest. The music in this suite is a reflection on our history and future as a community, presented via the great tradition of Black American Music.

The music is organized into four movements that describe the physical and emotional settings before, during, and after the 2017 protest events. The 1st movement, (Robert E.) Lee Park, is about the beloved city park where the protesters gathered, and the park’s namesake statue that served as a rallying cry for the protesters. The 2nd movement, The March, is a slow and painful reflection on the hatred that physically marched throughout the city. The 3rd movement, Shadows of the March, is an intimate duet between bass clarinet and double bass that represents two voices mourning the events of the protests, trying to understand what had happened and why. The final movement, Emancipation Park, brings us to the present day as we determine how to move forward from the realities of our history.  A metaphor for the ongoing controversies surrounding the renaming of Lee Park first to “Emancipation Park” and then to “Market Street Park”, musical dissonances resolve for a moment, giving an illusion of unity, only to later collapse again. The suite ends with one unison melody, signifying resilience and hope for the future."


Suite for Cville: Regarding the Unite the Right Rally that took place in Charlottesville, VA on August 11-12, 2017

  1. (Robert E.) Lee Park
  2. The March
  3. Shadows of the March
  4. Emancipation Park

Composed by Kris Monson

Kris Monson – double bass, compositions
John D’earth – trumpet
Jasper Dutz – bass clarinet
Alex Hamburger – flute, baritone saxophone
Jamal Millner – guitar
Guy Moskovich – piano
Jongkuk Kim – drums


“Kris Monson depicts in his Charlottesville Suite the angst and moral outrage of this tragic event. This is what music can be: a reflection and expression of important seminal moments in history."  – Phil Markowitz

 “His [Kris Monson’s] Suite for Cville is deserving of awards, grants, promotion and more. It should be performed many more times across the country, as the message is clearly one that is both pertinent and urgent.” – Ingrid Jensen

“… the first masterpiece of yours that I’ve ever heard. Thank you very much for involving me in this. A pleasure it has been.” – Tyshawn Sorey  



UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176