Florida State University in Tallahassee presents "Seven Last Words of the Unarmed," a powerful symphony built on the last words of Michael Brown, John Crawford, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and other unarmed black men shot and killed.

The power of art to address tensions — whether racial, political, economic, etc. — is undeniable as it can so quickly disarm the watcher, the listener, the doer. Art allows us to have difficult conversations first, with ourselves, and then with others.

The musical piece “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” is no different. It weaves together the last words uttered by seven unarmed black men before they were killed.

“The very question of ‘Why?’ sort of sets up the whole rest of the piece,” composer Joel Thompson said during an interview with WDET 101.9 FM. ”Why is this happening? Particularly to unarmed people of a certain community.”

The symphony, which premiered in Nov. 2015, is coming to Tallahassee’s Ruby Diamond Concert Hall on Sunday, March 31.

The song’s seven movements ebb and flow between intense staccatos and flowing refrains, anchored by silences. Each element representing the last words of these seven different men.

“What are you following me for?” — Trayvon Martin, 17

“I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.” — Michael Brown, 18

“It’s not real.” — John Crawford, 22

"You shot me! You shot me!” — Oscar Grant, 22

“Mom, I’m going to college.” — Amadou Diallo, 23

“I can’t breathe." — Eric Garner, 43

“Why do you have your guns out?” — Kenneth Chamberlain, 66

Read more: Find the stories of these seven men here

Composer Joel Thompson, of Atlanta, was inspired to write the symphony after finding the #lastwords project by journalist and artist Shirin-Banou Barghi who created “images to raise awareness about racist police violence in America and as an expression of solidarity."

"I experienced police brutality in my native Iran, and the struggle here to confront that violence resonated with me," Barghi wrote on Twitter.

The Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra will be joined by the Florida A&M Concert Choir and Atlanta-based Morehouse College Glee Club in the performance, hosted by Leon County and The Village Square.

"This is something that we hope will show humanity and help us to look at each other with a different eye: to see the humanity in others," Byron Greene, TSO board member said to the Tallahassee Democrat. "To empathize helps you to really see other people as people — and not just 'other' or 'them' or 'they.'"

Thompson’s symphony has received critical acclaim. The documentary Love, Life & Loss highlights the work and the Glee Club’s journey with the piece.

"Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words doesn’t sow anger or inflame political divides, but instead explores the universal concept of loss and the empowering possibilities of empathy," Eugene Rogers, University of Michigan's Director of Choral Activities, said in a release.

IF YOU GO:

What: Ode to Understanding: "Seven Last Words of the Unarmed"

When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 31

Where: FSU's Ruby Diamond Concert Hall

Tickets: $20-$60

Purchase: tallahasseesymphony.org/odetounderstanding or 850-224-0461

If you can’t make the show, you can see “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” in the YouTube video below.

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Read more on the Tallahassee Democrat.

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