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Michael Brown protesters interrupt St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert

Michael Brown protesters interrupt St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert

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Updated at 2:15 Monday with corrected reference to tune sung by Powell Symphony Hall protesters.  

Michael Brown protesters interrupted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's concert on Saturday night, causing a brief delay in the performance at Powell Symphony Hall.

The orchestra and chorus were preparing to perform Johannes Brahms' Requiem just after intermission when two audience members in the middle aisle on the main floor began singing  "Which Side are You On?" - an organized labor tune with origins in the infamous 1931 Harlan, Kentucky coal strike. 

They soon were joined, in harmony, by other protesters, who stood at seats in various locations on the main floor and in the balcony.

The protesters then unfurled three hand-painted banners and hung them from the Dress Circle boxes. One banner listed the birth and death date of Brown, who was shot by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

The five-minute interruption was met with a smattering of applause from some audience members, as well as members of the orchestra and chorus. Others simply watched as the orchestra remained silent.

The protest ended quietly as participants left voluntarily, chanting, “Black lives matter.” Conductor Markus Stenz resumed the concert shortly thereafter.

SLSO publicist Erika Ebsworth-Goold said the protesters were paying members of the audience. She said they left the building peacefully.

Before leaving, the protesters scattered red paper hearts over the edge of the balcony onto the main floor orchestra seats. They read, in part: “Requiem for Mike Brown.”

Sarah Bryan Miller of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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Steve Giegerich is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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