ROCHESTER, NY — The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered and celebrated next month by the Eastman School of Music with a special performance that is free and open to the public.
On Monday, January 16 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), at noon in Kilbourn Hall (26 Gibbs St.), the School will present a moving program titled Let Freedom Ring II, which will feature a live reading of Dr. King’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech. Rev. Alvin Parris (BM ’73) will read the speech in its entirety, accompanied by a dozen percussionists and five string players.
Let Freedom Ring II, which was premiered last year for a captivated audience of Rochester community members, opens with the Rev. Parris’ solitary voice reading Dr. King’s speech. On the phrase “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair,” six drum set players enter with a unison funky groove ala James Brown’s Funky Drummer. As the work continues, the text of the speech and the beat of the drum sets are accentuated with strings, gongs, cymbals, and mallet percussion instruments. The piece was written by Eastman percussion student Colin Tribby, who will direct the performance, and will include additional music for strings and percussion, written by Justin Poindexter — a composition student from the North Carolina School of the Arts — and conducted by Eastman student Nathaniel Motta.
“You sit and you listen to the speech for three minutes, and the all of a sudden, the drummers come in playing this funky beat, and the words start to take on a new meaning,” said Tribby. “The Rev. Parris reads the speech and makes it his own, and it takes on a feel that is both modern and rings of the past.”
Tribby was inspired to write the piece to counter what he perceived as a lack of real celebration at colleges of Dr. King’s birth. His hope is that the piece will be performed simultaneously at many schools in the future, as a sort of communal commemoration of Dr. King.
The concert will also feature Eastman baritone Carl Du Pont, Jr., the current William Warfield Scholarship recipient, performing songs to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. He will be accompanied by Christina Lalog.
Please note: Photos of last year’s performance of Let Freedom Ring and photos of Carl Du Pont, Jr. are available upon request. Interviews and photo/footage opportunities can also be arranged.