ROCHESTER, NY — The life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered and celebrated this month by the Eastman School of Music with two special performances, both of which are free and open to the public.
On Monday, January 17 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), at noon in Kilbourn Hall (26 Gibbs St.), the School will present a moving program titled Let Freedom Ring, which will feature a live reading of portions of Dr. King’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech. Rev. Alvin Parris will read the excerpts, accompanied by nearly 20 Eastman percussionists on the Kilbourn Hall stage. Let Freedom Ring is a work written by Eastman percussion student Colin Tribby, who will direct the performance. Tribby’s work is inspired by jazz great Max Roach’s 1981 composition The Dream, which featured Roach performing a solo drumset accompaniment to a recording of King’s speech. Other Eastman students — all of non-U.S. origin — will echo key lines of the speech in their native language, from various positions in the hall.
On Friday, January 28, at 8 p.m. in Eastman Theatre, the Eastman Philharmonia, under the baton of conductor Neil Varon, will perform former Eastman faculty composer Joseph Schwantner’s New Morning for the World — a powerful work for orchestra and narrator, also based on the words of King. The Eastman Philharmonia premiered this piece in 1982, with the late baseball great Willie Stargell narrating. (The late William Warfield, among others, has also narrated it.) For this performance, Eastman alumnus Paul Burgett — well known University of Rochester vice president and former dean of students at Eastman — will narrate. Notably, Burgett served as Stargell’s understudy when the piece was first premiered, but never had the chance to narrate — until now.
The concert will conclude with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s spectacular Piano Concerto no. 1. The Eastman student soloist will be named next week.