Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Virginia Gazette: Virginia Symphony to Perform William Grant Still's "Afro-American Symphony" at Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Jan. 14 in Norfolk

William Grant Still (1895-1978)

Music Director JoAnn Falletta will conduct the VSO's upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert. (Courtesy of Anne M. Peterson)

By Seth Birkenmeyer

December 19, 2017


The Virginia Symphony Orchestra announced Friday it will perform a free concert paying homage to Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 14 in Norfolk. The event aims to embody the Civil Rights leader’s focus on bringing people together.

“It’s more important now than ever to celebrate him,” said VSO music director JoAnn Falletta, adding that King’s focus on peace and unity make for “a message that still needs to be heard.”

The concert continues a decades-long tradition of the VSO honoring Martin Luther King Jr. through artistic expression. Falletta said the initiative helps foster relationships between local communities, churches and the symphony itself.

“Every year, it’s a little different,” she said. “But it’s always joyful. It’s always inspiring.”

This year’s concert begins with “The Star Spangled Banner” and then transitions into “Symphony No. 1” by 20th century African-American composer William Grant Still. The concert also features Duke Ellington’s “Three Black Kings,” which in part commemorates King’s life.

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