The Philadelphia Orchestra is once again partnering with Global Citizen’s Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service to present its 31st annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concert online on Monday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. on www.philorch.org and www.facebook.com/PhilOrch.
The program, led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., through music and interviews with prominent Philadelphians.
The concert is part of the “Our City, Your Orchestra,” a series of free online concerts performed by small ensembles and recorded without audiences at Black-owned businesses and iconic cultural locations throughout the region. The music is chosen specifically for, and in collaboration with, each location to speak to its unique mission, as well as interviews with local leaders to tell their stories. Past performances are available for free on on www.philorch.org/our-city-your-orchestra and their Facebook page with new locations being added in 2021.
“On behalf of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra, we are honored to continue this important tradition online this year and to take this opportunity to share a broad range of repertoire that speaks to Dr. King’s vision for a better world,” said Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. “In the spirit of the Our City, Your Orchestra series, we also look forward to turning the spotlight on Philadelphians who are doing remarkable work in our communities. Together, we celebrate Dr. King and his legacy, as well as the power of music to bring us together.”
Honorees include founder and owner of Harriett’s Bookshop Jeannine Cook, Pennsylvania State Rep. Jordan A. Harris, and Rev. Mark Tyler of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Viewers will also hear from Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, President of Global Citizen and Founder and Director of the King Day of Service Todd Bernstein, PECO President and CEO Mike Innocenzo, and Reverend Abbey Tennis of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia.
The digital concert will feature new performances as well as excerpts from previous Our City, Your Orchestra presentations, including vocalist Patrice Hawthorne and a string quartet performing the spiritual “Go Tell It on the Mountain” from the Historic Belmont Mansion/Underground Railroad Museum and a performance of Ajibola Rivers’ Rumba, from Suite No. 2, from Harriett’s Bookshop. Vocalist Laurin Talese will join Yannick and the Orchestra for a powerful performance of John Rosamond Johnson’s Lift Every Voice and Sing, known as the Black national anthem. Members of the Orchestra’s brass sections will perform Giancarlo Castro’s Diversity. In addition, Charlotte Blake Alston will reprise her narration of excerpts from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, set to a previously recorded performance by Yannick and the Orchestra of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. This stirring arrangement has been a staple of the King Day of Service for the past 15 years, and will continue in this online presentation.
“Global Citizen is proud to continue our partnership for the seventh consecutive year with the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra,” said Todd Bernstein, president of Global Citizen and founder and director of the King Day of Service. “At such a challenging time, this online musical celebration brings us together in spirit and highlights the Orchestra’s Our City, Your Orchestra series. Under the leadership of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, this exciting tribute to Dr. King highlights the contributions of Black composers, musicians, and vocal performers, and underscores Dr. King’s legacy of equity and inclusion. Hopefully, next year we will all be together again, in person.”