The Cleveland Orchestra Announces Virtual 41st Annual MLK Celebration

Cleveland, OH - Today, The Cleveland Orchestra announced details of its 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, which will take place virtually because of the ongoing pandemic. In the Orchestra’s 41st year of offering music to celebrate and reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King, it will provide a variety of ways for guests to honor him in the safety of their homes from January 14 through early February.

“While it is sadly not possible for all of us to gather at Severance Hall for this year’s concert, The Cleveland Orchestra is committed to continuing the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration into its 41st year,” said André Gremillet, President & CEO of The Cleveland Orchestra. “Every year, we honor the legacy of Dr. King by offering inspiring and meaningful music performances to our community. This year, we will present free video performances through our Adella streaming service and social media networks — and through radio and TV broadcasts with our partners at ideastream.”

“This year’s celebration highlights the work of Black composers George Walker, Florence Price, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and Cleveland native Leslie Adams in new and recent video recordings performed by members of The Cleveland Orchestra” said Mark Williams, Chief Artistic Officer. “The celebration includes an opportunity to watch the 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert for free on Adella. This concert featured Music Director Franz Welser-Möst leading The Cleveland Orchestra, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Chorus, soloist Ryan Speedo Green, and narrator James Pickens, Jr. in a reverent and uplifting performance paying homage to Dr. King’s message of unity and equality.”

“In a typical year, one highlight of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration is our Free Community Open House and Day of Music,” said Joan Katz Napoli, Senior Director of Education and Community Programs. “For the 2021 celebration, we’re proud to amplify and showcase the work of our community partners by sharing videos of their music, art, and powerful words in honor of Dr. King. The celebration concludes with the MLK Community Service Awards, which this year recognize several Northeast Ohio organizations that fight for racial equity, economic justice, and education — and that champion these causes through the arts.”

2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert on Adella

Recorded in 2018, The Cleveland Orchestra’s 38th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert will be available for viewing free through the Adella digital streaming service ( beginning on Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. until Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

The Cleveland Orchestra’s 38th annual free concert in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took place at Severance Hall on January 14, 2018 led by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. This concert was sponsored by KeyBank and supported by a grant from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

The January 14, 2018 program featured classical selections by Beethoven, Respighi, and George Walker, as well as traditional hymns and spirituals such as “Down by the Riverside,” “Precious Lord,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The complete program is listed below. The Cleveland Orchestra was joined for this performance by:

·Narrator James Pickens Jr., a Cleveland native who is best known as Dr. Richard Webber on Grey’s Anatomy and Deputy Director Alvin Kersh on The X-Files;

·Guest soloist Ryan Speedo Green, called “a show stopper” by The New York Times; and

·The Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Chorus — an all-Cleveland community volunteer chorus — directed by Dr. William Henry Caldwell.

The Cleveland Orchestra

Community Celebration on Social Media

Starting on January 18, 2021, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration will include videos released on the Orchestra’s social media channels (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter). Members of The Cleveland Orchestra will perform music by Black American composers Florence Price, Leslie Adams, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson in new video recordings filmed at Severance Hall.

·A composer, pianist, and organist, Florence Price became the first Black American woman to have one of her compositions performed by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered her Symphony No. 1 in E minor on June 15, 1933. Over the course of her career, she composed more than 300 works and found inspiration in jazz, spirituals, church music, and European art music.

·Leslie Adams was born in Cleveland and received his bachelor of music degree from Oberlin College. His classical works, which incorporate elements of traditional African-American music, have been performed throughout Ohio and across the U.S., including a 1994 commission from The Cleveland Orchestra titled Western Adventure.

·Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s music career spanned the genres and mediums of pop, jazz, film, TV, and classical music. In addition to serving as music director for Jerome Robbins’s American Theater Lab and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Perkinson wrote arrangements for Marvin Gaye, Harry Belafonte, and Max Roach, among others. His innovative compositions feature hints of Baroque counterpoint, American Romanticism, blues, and Black folk music.

More details of these performances are listed below.

Recent Cleveland Orchestra videos will be re-released, including George Walker’s “Lyric for Strings,” performed by Cleveland Orchestra musicians this past summer; “Oh Happy Day” performed by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Chorus in collaboration with Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C®) Vocal Arts Mastery Program, both led by Dr. William Henry Caldwell and filmed remotely this past summer; and Beethoven’s Overture from The Creatures of Prometheus performed by The Cleveland Orchestra and featuring dancers from Cleveland School of the Arts, created in fall 2017.

Community partners from across Northeast Ohio will join the Orchestra in this Community Celebration, creating music, theatre, or arts video performances honoring Dr. King’s life and legacy. Partners include:

·Musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra

·Inlet Dance Theatre performing to Maya Angelou’s beloved poem, “Still I Rise.”

·Karamu House

·Djapo Cultural Arts Institute

·Cleveland School of the Arts / Cleveland Metropolitan School District

·Cuyahoga Community College

Documentary-style videos will also be presented as part of the Community Celebration, highlighting Dr. King’s life, some of his most powerful speeches, and individuals and organizations who continue his legacy today. The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award honorees will be announced in a video tribute near the end of the Community Celebration in early February

Photos courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra

(Copyright, iHeartMedia, 2020)

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