Hidden from small

Living the Dream with The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert

January 13, 2016

On January 18 Philadelphia hosts the largest Martin Luther King Day of Service in the entire country … and it’s capped off with superb music from The Philadelphia Orchestra led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, all in honor of Dr. King.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The concert, at Girard College Chapel at 1:30 PM, is presented by PECO. It will feature violinist Adé Williams (a Sphinx Competition winner and Curtis student); Charlotte Blake Alston, who moves the audience every year with her stirring reading of some of Dr. King’s words spoken over the Orchestra playing Barber’s haunting Adagio for Strings; and the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts Choir (Dorina Morrow, director). The program includes works by Beethoven (“Welten singen Dank und Ehre,” from Christ on the Mount of Olives), Grieg (Suite No. 1 from Peer Gynt), Saint-Saëns (Havanaise for violin and orchestra), capped by James Weldon Johnson’s immortal “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” As a special treat, the Orchestra and chorus will also perform the “Work Song” from Hannibal’s One Land, One River, One People. The Orchestra performed one movement of this piece at last year’s King Concert and then presented the world premiere of the entire piece last November, to rapturous applause both times.

“The Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert gives us all a chance to reflect on the state of our global society, and consider how we as a community can work together to make Dr. King’s vision a reality,” says Yannick. “For me, part of this vision is finding unity through the universal language of music. The Orchestra will once again perform a selection from Hannibal’s One Land, One River, One People, a powerful and uplifting work that has the ability to bring communities together. Alongside Sphinx Competition winner Adé Williams, Charlotte Blake Alston, a choir from the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, and our audience, we will find that unity.”

“For decades The Philadelphia Orchestra has gathered to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and commemorate his vision, which continues to inspire millions here in our city, throughout our country, and across the world,” says Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. “With this special concert, we offer an experience that forges bonds between people of various backgrounds through the joy of music.”

The theme of this Day of Service is Justice—racial, economic, environmental, and criminal—and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a crucial turning point in the struggle for civil rights.

Organized by Global Citizen, and with Girard College anchoring the observation, this 21st annual Day of Service will feature some 140-thousand volunteers participating in roughly 1800 community service projects, including a clothing drive to provide business attire for job seekers; a Jobs and Opportunity Fair; a Civic Engagement Expo highlighting the work of dozens of local community organizations, and opportunities to volunteer with them; and a kids carnival designed to help young people understand the life and legacy of Dr. King, among many other events.

“I cannot think of a more joyous concluding event to the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday through serving others than having The Philadelphia Orchestra bringing together such a rich and diverse audience from all backgrounds and ages, celebrating his enduring legacy,” said Todd Bernstein, president of Global Citizen and founder and director of the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service.

The concert is free but tickets are required. This concert will be broadcast live on WRTI 90.1 FM. The Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert is presented by PECO. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Annenberg Foundation.