Wednesday, January 24, 2018

John Malveaux: Santa Monica Symphony’s Annual Martin Luther King Concert featuring Cedric Berry: Review

Cedric Berry
(Photo by Kevin Tu)

John Malveaux of 

Santa Monica Symphony & MLK Jr. Westside Coalition concert honoring MLK Jr. featuring bass baritone Cedric Berry

John Malveaux


Ira Israel, Contributor
Psychotherapist & Author

Dovetailing with Oprah Winfey’s inspirational Golden Globe speech regarding a new day appearing on the horizon, this weekend the Santa Monica Symphony performed an exquisitely programmed concert celebrating freedom, justice, and equality. One of the Santa Monica’s oldest treasures and a city icon now in its 73rd season, the orchestra provides classical music concerts free to the public five times per year.

Sponsored in part by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition, the concert featured primarily American music. Aaron Copland’s familiar “Fanfare for the Common Man” opened the program, followed by an orchestration of Duke Ellington’s composition “Black, Brown, and Beige,” then “Te Deum” by Puccini and a stellar rendition of Joseph Schwantner’s stunning and captivating piece “New Morning for the World.” University of Southern California faculty member and highly accomplished bass-baritone, Cedric Berry, served as narrator for “New Morning for the World” commemorating Martin Luther King’s legacy with pivotal excerpts from King’s speeches set to dramatic flourishes.

The familiar opening tones of Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” set the stage for an unparalleled program. Ellington’s “Black, Brown and Beige,” was an aptly chosen piece for Martin Luther King weekend because it recounts African American history and incorporates spirituals, the blues, and a section entitled “Emancipation Celebration.” The first half of the concert finished with the colossal power and lyricism of Cedric Berry’s voice as he grandly empowered Puccini’s “Te Deum” aria from “Tosca.” 

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