by Daniel Hathaway
The Cleveland Orchestra will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the 40th consecutive year on Sunday, January 12 at 7:00 pm in Severance Hall. Assistant conductor Vinay Parameswaran will lead the Orchestra and the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Chorus, William Henry Caldwell, director, in a program whose repertory departs slightly from past concerts.
“There won’t be a featured soloist this year,” Parameswaren said in a telephone conversation late last month. Instead, the majority of the program will feature African American composers.
“We’ll open with Adolphus Hailstork’s Fanfare on Amazing Grace, then move to a couple of pieces from Duke Ellington’s suite, The River, and on to the first movement of Florence Price’s First Symphony. Jahja Ling is going to conduct her Fourth Symphony in April, and I’m doing a movement from that piece with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra during the Open House on January 20. It’s nice to get to celebrate a composer like Price, who wrote a ton of music and had premieres performed by the Chicago Symphony and other big orchestras, but who doesn’t make it onto concert programs very often these days.”
Duke Ellington’s music is a similar case. “I’ve conducted his Harlem and I’ve studied his Three Black Kings,” Parameswaran said. “Ellington doesn’t get as much recognition for his orchestral writing as he does for his jazz, but he certainly knew what he was doing. Again, it’s a rarity to find his music appearing on a classical program, but I’m glad it’s on this one.” [Read more…]