His holiday may have passed, but Martin Luther King, Jr. is always worthy of celebration. This weekend, the Richmond Symphony will be presenting Remembering 1968: A Tribute to MLK, Jr - A Reflection on the Civil Rights Movement through Inspirational Music at the Carpenter Theatre with shows on Saturday, Feb. 3 and Sunday, Feb. 4.
This special concert from the Altria Masterworks series will feature guest narrators to guide the audience through each piece, including: Mayor Levar Stoney on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m., Kelli Lemon (host of Coffee with Strangers), and Gary L. Flowers (The Gary Flowers Show) on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now, visit www.richmondsymphony.com for more details.
The Richmond Symphony also recently announced its 61st season for 2018-2019 which includes among the highlights: An opening night concert featuring world-renowned pianist Lang Lang performing Mozart and Berlioz on Sept. 21; Brahms' Requiem with the Richmond Symphony Chorus on Nov. 10 and 11; a season long collaboration with the University of Richmond as part of its Tucker-Boatwright Festival of Literature and the Arts, culminating with a two-night Masterworks program on April 13 and 14, 2019 at the Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts. For more, visit their website.
Here's more info from the press release on the MLK concerts:
Jan. 22, 2018 – Richmond Virginia - Music Director Steven Smith will lead the Richmond Symphony in Remembering 1968: A Tribute to MLK, Jr. featuring prominent guest soloists and a combined choir with voices from Longwood University, Norfolk State University, ￼the Richmond Symphony Chorus, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union ￼University and special guest vocalists: Bahati Barton (soprano), Kendall Gladen (mezzo-soprano), Colin Eaton ￼(tenor), and Robert Cantrell (bass-baritone). The combined choir includes the same line-up of university combined choir of voices from the Richmond Symphony Chorus and members of university choirs from across Virginia.
The program will be held on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. in the Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Join us for a concert celebrating unity and peace, and be moved by inspirational words and music.
This concert, which is a signature event of the Virginia General Assembly’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission, is comprised of pieces that honor the legacy of a man who was fearless in his charge to fight the injustices of the world. 1968 was a time of both political and civil unrest. The world was in a state of disarray and turmoil. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. served as a source of hope and light for the masses in a time that seemed hopeless and dark. This inspirational program includes compositions by Mary Watkins, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Beethoven, and local legend Undine Smith Moore.
Undine Smith Moore’s Scenes from the Life of a Martyr is centered on the intense struggle for equality. Moore dreamed of creating “a society where one’s favorite art is highly regarded, highly valued, where one’s progress is a source of pride to the family and the entire community.” This Virginia State University faculty member believed that exposure to the arts would create a “fine sense of self-worth and a high level of aspiration” in a child. She always described herself as a teacher who composed, as opposed to a composer who happened to also be a teacher. When this piece was first performed by the Richmond Symphony in April of 1982, Dika Newlin of the Richmond Times-Dispatch described it as “a monumental tribute. . . the simplest of harmonic and melodic means produce an overwhelming effect. I wept—and so did many others."
This piece will feature a combined choir with voices from Longwood ￼University, Norfolk State University, the Richmond Symphony Chorus, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union University and special guest vocalists: Bahati ￼Barton (soprano), Kendall Gladen (mezzo-soprano), Colin Eaton (tenor), and Robert Cantrell (bass- ￼baritone). The combined choir includes the same line-up of university choirs as when the ￼Richmond Symphony hosted the world premiere of this piece in 1982. This will be an ￼incredibly moving performance – not to be missed!
The Richmond (VA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, in partnership with The Richmond Symphony, sponsored the world premiere performance of Scenes from the Life of a Martyr, a Cantata, by Dr. Undine Smith Moore, on April 19, 1982. They are graciously sponsoring this concert as well.
Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy is a curious work, featuring the combined chorus and special guest musician, Terrence Wilson on piano. It will begin with solo piano followed by the orchestra sneaking in and carrying on a dialogue with the piano. The piano then presents the melody to Beethoven’s song Gegenliebe (Mutual Love). Finally, the combined chorus enters singing “Graceful, charming and sweet is the sound/Of our life’s harmonies . . . Accept then, you beautiful souls/Joyously the gifts of high art.” Mary Watkins’ Five Movements in Color is a dynamic composition in which the audience can truly follow the story through the music. As the mood moves from peaceful to active, even violent at points, this piece stands as a statement about the civil rights movement that is just as relevant today as it was in 1968. Watkins said, “I saw my own people in their long march to express themselves as fully human.” This inspired her to compose this timely piece. While she says it is a “song of sorrow” it is also “bittersweet and nostalgic” and “a song of hope.”
When the Cincinnati Symphony asked Jonathan Bailey Holland to compose a short piece to accompany Maya Angelou’s poem "Equality," he hesitated, stating that the poem itself was already music. After some pressing, he created a piece that draws on the persistent energy that is found within the poem. Angelou’s words in Equality are just as fitting for the struggles she faced during her lifetime as they would have been for those that fought to end slavery, and for those who are still fighting inequality today. richmondsymphony.com or by calling 1.800.514.ETIX.