Wednesday, January 9, 2013 'Alabama Symphony, Henry Panion reflect on 1963 tragedy in annual King tribute'; 'Miaka Kumi' of 'Atlanta composer Alvin Singleton'

Henry Pannion III, PhD

Alabama Symphony Assistant Conductor Roderick Cox, left, and UAB Professor Henry Panion III talk at Panion's Audiostate 55 Recording Studios in Woodlawn. Cox will conduct world premieres of two of Panion's compositions at ASO's annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, Jan. 20. At left is the score to "Here We Are," for orchestra choir and girls choir. (Tamika Moore |

AL.comBy Michael Huebner |
on January 09, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- As Birmingham remembers the seminal civil rights events that occurred 50 years ago, one annual concert has stood as a beacon of remembrance and hope for several years.

Alabama Symphony's
"Reflect and Rejoice," a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. co-sponsored by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and PNC Bank, will take place on its usual date close to the MLK holiday. But it takes on special significance in 2013.
The struggle for equality spearheaded by Dr. King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and others, and the sacrifices of countless Birmingham citizens in their quest to realize the dream, will play out in music -- specifically, in two new compositions by Grammy winner and UAB professor Henry Panion III.

Central to the concert's theme is the September 15, 1963, bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which took the lives of four young girls. Panion's works, both ASO commissions, will be premiered, the first titled "Here We Are," the second, "Send Me Hope." Panion described them as "€œbookends,"€ the first based on a well-known spiritual, the second a contemporary gospel ballad.

"€œI think people who love contemporary gospel, and those who love spirituals, will be able to see the connection,"€ said Panion. "€œThe goal is not to shy away from the tragedy but to bring that forth in the music, also to bridge the messages from that day and those same messages that are relevant today."
"The whole concert is about reflecting and remembering, taking a journey forward from there."

Panion's second work, "Send Me Hope," does just that. Scored for orchestra, choir and soprano solo, it leans more toward contemporary gospel. "It is the same message but with contemporary harmonies," Panion said. In contemporary gospel you may talk about other ills in our society -- family, health, whatever -- it is still the same message. It may be more personal." Cox will conduct ASO, the Aeolians and Marquita Anthony, who Panion describes as a "powerful singer."

Rounding out the program will be "Miaka Kumi," by Atlanta composer Alvin Singleton, whose works have appeared twice before on ASO's "Reflect and Rejoice" programs; William Grant Still's "Suite for Violin and Orchestra," with violinist Daniel Szasz the soloist; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.

[William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Recordings, sheet music and books of William Grant Still are available at, which is operated by the composer's daughter Judith Anne Still]

[Alvin Singleton's publisher is Schott Music, whose website explains the 2011 premiere of the composer's fanfare Miaka Kumi:

Alvin Singleton’s new fanfare for orchestra Miaka Kumi, which in Swahili is "10 Years", debuts with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on February 3. Written in honor of Maestro Spano on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his tenure as Music Director, the work marks just the latest collaboration between the composer and conductor. In 2010, Robert Spano led the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a new and heralded recording of Singleton’s PraiseMaker, available now on the new Telarc disc The Singing Rooms-Music of Higdon, Scriabin and Singleton.]

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