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Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert With The Cleveland Orchestra

Airs Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

The concert marks both the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and t...

Credit: Courtesy of American Public Television

Above: The concert marks both the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and the Cleveland Orchestra’s 100th anniversary season.

The program follows The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by music director Franz Welser-Möst, through a moving and inspiring community celebration that honors the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert With The Cleveland Orchestra” is a tribute to the slain civil rights leader as told through music and Dr. King’s own words.

The inspiring production features music specially selected to relate to the themes of Dr. King’s speeches, which are shown throughout the hour-long program.

For more than 35 years, The Cleveland Orchestra has celebrated Dr. King’s legacy by opening the doors to its beautiful Severance Hall home for a free, annual concert.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert With The Cleveland Orchestra

Hosted by actor James Pickens, Jr, this concert features the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by music director Franz Welser-Most. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, the performance includes classical selections by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Verdi as well as hymns and spirituals including "Down by the Riverside," "Precious Lord," and "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

In this hour-long televised production, the Orchestra is joined by host James Pickens, Jr., a Cleveland native best known for his portrayal of Dr. Richard Webber on “Grey’s Anatomy” and guest soloist Ryan Speedo Green. Green has been called “a show stopper” by The New York Times and has been featured on "60 Minutes.”

An all-Cleveland community volunteer chorus, the Martin Luther King Celebration Chorus directed by Dr. William Henry Caldwell, adds to the program offering sounds that are at times joyful and exuberant, and at times soulful and heartfelt.

The concert includes music from the classical repertoire along with hymns, spirituals and anthems from the civil rights era. Two arrangements commissioned especially for the concert are featured: “Down by the Riverside” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”

The rousing conclusion of the concert features The Cleveland Orchestra along with the Martin Luther King Celebration Chorus and the entire audience joining together for one of the most cherished songs of the civil rights movement, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

The program includes:

  • Traditional/arr. Caldwell – “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn me ‘Round”
  • Beethoven – Overture to “Egmont”
  • Mendelssohn – “Lord God of Abraham” from “Elijah”
  • Walker – “Lyric for Strings”
  • Traditional/arr. Floyd – “Down by the Riverside”; arrangement commissioned for “The Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert with The Cleveland Orchestra”
  • Verdi – “Va pensiero” (“Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves”) from “Nabucco”
  • Respighi – “Pines of the Appian Way” from “Pines of Rome”
  • Steffe/arr. Wilhousky – “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
  • Dorsey/arr. Floyd – “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”; arrangement commissioned for “The Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert with The Cleveland Orchestra”
  • Mendelssohn – “Movement No. 4” from “Symphony No. 5” (“Reformation”)
  • Johnson/arr. Smith – “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

Join The Conversation:

The Cleveland Orchestra is on Instagram. Follow @CleveOrchestra on Twitter

Credits:

A production of WVIZ/PBS ideastream in partnership with The Cleveland Orchestra. Funding is provided by KeyBank.

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