GMF2020: Panel Discussion | Black Lives Matter and Classical Music

Moderator Garrett McQueen leads a panel of distinguished musicians in a discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement and classical music. Panelists include Jessica “Lady Jess” McJunkins, freelance violinist; Ann Hobson Pilot, retired principal harp, Boston Symphony Orchestra; and Titus Underwood, principal oboe, Nashville Symphony Orchestra.


Garrett McQueen

A proud native of Memphis, TN, Garrett McQueen has performed in venues across the country, including Los Angeles’ Disney Hall, Detroit’s Max M. Fischer Music Center, and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

He has been a member of the South Arkansas Symphony, Jackson Symphony, American Youth Symphony, Memphis Repertory Orchestra, the Eroica Ensemble, and most recently, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, he has worked with groups including the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Southeast Symphony, the Artosphere, Gateways Music Festival Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

He has enjoyed giving multiple solo recitals, performing with the Godiva Woodwind Quintet, USC Scholarship Quintet, and Cooper-Young Winds, giving master classes, acting as a guest instructor for the Bahamas Music Conservatory and Idyllwild Arts Academy, adjudicating West Tennessee Band auditions, and teaching a studio of flutists/oboists/bassoonists consisting of middle school, high school, and undergraduate college students.

He has performed in multiple Broadway Musicals in Memphis under the baton of David Spencer and keeps himself busy in other free-lance activities, including being featured in Indie Rock tracks produced by Goner Records (2009) and True Panther Sounds (2010). Garrett has been heard as both a performer and guest host on APM’s “Performance Today”, and was featured as the principal bassoonist on the Memphis Repertory Orchestra’s inaugural CD of works by Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. He has also appeared on a wide array of television shows, including Oxygen’s “Snapped: Killer Couples”, TV One’s “Fatal Attraction”, and Fox’s “Glee”.

His affinity for contemporary music drives much of his passion for the art form, and continues to be his primary interest when it comes to playing the bassoon. In a performance of Eric Ewazen’s “Concerto for Bassoon and Wind Ensemble,” Ewazen noted his “wonderful playing” and characterized McQueen as someone who “gives a great performance of [his] piece”. In 2012, McQueen’s playing earned him the title of one of America’s “most interesting classical musicians” by conductor and author of “The Real Toscanini: Musicians Reveal the Maestro”, Cesare Civetta.

In 2016, Garrett began transitioning into the field of public media and content creation, where he does most of his work today. As a strong advocate for the diversification of classical music and the advancement of Black musicians in the field, Garrett has used his platforms on local, national, and international airwaves to promote Black artistry in classical music. Additionally, he’s spoken on diversity and equity panels presented by the Gateways Music Festival, the Sphinx Organization, the Kennedy Center’s Shift Festival and others, and continues in this work in live and digital spaces. Some of his work has been published by organizations with parallel agendas, including his series on “The Relationship Between Race and Classical Music” by Arts in a Changing America. In an article produced by Current, McQueen was hailed as “a black talent in public media that you may not know, but should”.

Garrett holds a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon from the University of Memphis, where he studied with Lecolion Washington, and a Master of Music in Bassoon from the University of Southern California, where he studied with Judith Farmer. In addition to working as Executive Producer and co-host of the TRILLOQUY podcast and owner of TRILLOQUY LLC, Garrett collaborates with arts organizations as an equity consultant, guest speaker, and curator. He serves on the board of the American Composers Forum as Equity Committee Chair, and spends his free time with his friend and podcast co-host, Scott Blankenship, and his boyfriend, Dell.

Jessica “Lady Jess” McJunkins

Jessica McJunkins, née Lady Jess, performs in NYC and LA. LJ leads strings under the baton of Darin Atwater’s Soulful Symphony in Baltimore, is Co-Artistic Director and concertmistress of the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra (UPCO) in New York City, is a regular Los Angeles session musician, and a soloing member of Beyoncé K Carter’s band.

Artists credits include collaborations with Stevie Wonder, The Roots, J.Lo, Max Richter, Alicia Keys, Hans Zimmer, Diana Ross, Spike Lee, One Direction, Terence Blanchard, Jay Z, JLo, Solange and more.

TV credits include The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with The Roots, Saturday Night Live, and more. 

Recent projects include the Emmy-nominated documentary Homecoming with accompanying live album, the On The Run II Tour with Beyonce and Jay-Z, recording and arranging strings while on tour with the Carters’, for the Grammy-nominated joint album Everything is Love, and recently released soundtracks to Disney’s The Lion King with Hans Zimmer.

As a session musician in Los Angeles, she can also be heard on the soundtrack of Charlie’s Angels, It II and more. While in LA, LJ also performs with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra, most recently for performances of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and Disney Pixar’s Coco live. 

LJ made her solo debut at Disney Hall (Los Angeles) in collaboration with Nicole Miller, for and by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as part of a festival curated by Essa Pekka Salonen.

She is a guest panelist and speaker at the League of American Orchestras, Sphinx Organization, and will be opening the WOW Women of the World Festival at the Apollo Theatre in March 2020. Other upcoming engagements include a teaching residency at Bravo Bermuda! and solo appearances with the Harlem Chamber Players in 2021. 

Ann Hobson Pilot

After 40 years with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, legendary principal harpist, Ann Hobson Pilot, retired at the end of the Tanglewood 2009 season.

Ann Hobson Pilot is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music under Alice Chalifoux. She became principal harp of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1980, having joined the BSO in 1969 as assistant principal harp and principal with the Boston Pops. Before that she was substitute second harp with the Pittsburgh Symphony and principal harp of the Washington National Symphony.

Ms. Pilot has had an extensive solo career. She has performed with many American orchestras as soloist, as well as with orchestras in Europe, Haiti, New Zealand, and South Africa. She has several CDs available on the Boston Records label, as well as on the Koch International and Denouement labels. In September 1999 she traveled to London to record, with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Harp Concerto by the young American composer Kevin Kaska, a work that she commissioned.

In May of 2010, Ms. Pilot was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Tufts University. She has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1993 and again in 2010, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Boston Musicians Association in 2010, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Talent Development League of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in January of 2014. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bridgewater State College in 1988.

Ms. Pilot recently retired from the faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University. She will now be affiliated with the State College of Florida, Fl. in addition to the Tanglewood Music Center and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. She has performed with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Marlboro Music Festival, Newport Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival and the Ritz Chamber Players.

After the 2009 Tanglewood concerts and her official retirement, Pilot returned to the stage as soloist with the BSO opening the Boston Symphony season and the Carnegie Hall season with the premiere of a concerto written for her by John Williams, “On Willows and Birches” a concerto for harp and orchestra. On October 3, the orchestra paid tribute to her dedicating the entire concert in her honor and featuring her in two other works for solo harp in addition to the Williams.

Producer Susan Dangel has recently completed a new half-hour documentary that will tell the story of her life in music, “A Harpist’s Legacy, Ann Hobson Pilot and the Sound of Change”. It has aired on PBS stations nationwide.

Her most recent performances were in January of 2019 with Maestro Thomas Wilkins and the Omaha Symphony and her debut with the International Chamber Music Festival “La Musica” in Sarasota, FL as well as a performance of the Ginas-tera Concerto with the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Orchestra on July 27, 2019 at Seiji Ozawa Hall in Lenox, MA.

She and her husband, Prentice Pilot, are currently residents of Osprey, Florida.

Titus Underwood

Titus Underwood is the Principal Oboe of the Nashville Symphony, having previously served as Acting Principal Oboe since September 2017. Prior to performing with the Nashville Symphony, he served as Acting Associate Principal of the Utah Symphony. He received his Master of Music from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Elaine Douvas, with additional studies with Nathan Hughes and Pedro Díaz. He earned his Bachelor of Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a pupil of John Mack, legendary principal oboist of The Cleveland Orchestra. While there, he also studied with Frank Rosenwein and Jeffrey Rathbun. 

Underwood has performed as Guest Associate Principal of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and as Guest Principal of Miami Symphony Orchestra and Florida Orchestra. He has also played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Puerto Rico Symphony and San Diego Symphony. He was an Oboe Fellow at Aspen Music Festival and has performed at the Grand Tetons Festival. He will serve as Principal Oboe at the Bellingham Music Festival in summer 2019. Other festivals he has attended include Music Academy of the West, National Repertory Orchestra and Domaine Forget.


Gateways Music Festival is grateful to the following foundations, corporations and governmental agencies for their support and contributions made between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2020.