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Mayor Wu sounds a resonant note for the place of music in our lives

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu plays the piano in her office.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

The article “Arts and culture can bring people together” (Sunday Arts, Dec. 26, 2021) leads off by reporting that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has lengthened her list of historic “firsts” by installing a piano in the mayoral chambers.

Your readers may be interested to know that this isn’t the first time Wu has made musical history at City Hall. On April 30, 2014, live jazz filled the council chamber. Wu, in her former role as chair of the council’s Arts and Culture Committee, had invited me, in my former role as president of a nonprofit jazz advocacy organization, to bring a band to celebrate International Jazz Day, which had been added to the world’s calendar a few years earlier by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to recognize the power of jazz to bring people together.


The band performed “No Walls,” a stirring jazz anthem of inclusion and hope composed by Mark Sumner Harvey, director of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, who counts among his ancestors Charles Sumner, the abolitionist US senator from Massachusetts who in 1856 was beaten in the Senate chamber for his views.

Wu not only was responsible for the first official Boston recognition of International Jazz Day; with her invitation every year since then, she has established a new City Hall tradition. As mayor, Wu makes it possible to believe the walls that divide our city’s diverse communities will start coming down.

Pauline Bilsky