Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Cleveland Orchestra: The 41st Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is Now Streaming Free, Including Music of Cleveland Native Leslie Adams

The Cleveland Orchestra

The Cleveland Orchestra will present its 41st annual celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., virtually this year, with free video performances through our Adella streaming service; radio and TV broadcasts with our partners at WVIZ PBS ideastream; and three weeks of daily video presentations on our social media networks (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter).

The celebration begins with a free streaming performance of the Orchestra’s 2018 MLK Concert led by Music Director Franz Welser-Möst available for viewing free through the Orchestra's Adella streaming service ( beginning on Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. until Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

The 2018 concert featured classical selections by Beethoven, Respighi, and George Walker, as well as traditional hymns and spirituals such as “Down by the Riverside,” “Precious Lord,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The Cleveland Orchestra was joined for this performance by:

  • Narrator James Pickens Jr., a Cleveland native who is best known as Dr. Richard Webber on Grey’s Anatomy and Deputy Director Alvin Kersh on The X-Files;
  • Guest soloist Ryan Speedo Green, called “a show stopper” by The New York Times; and
  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Chorus — an all-Cleveland community volunteer chorus — directed by Dr. William Henry Caldwell.

Continue the Community Celebration on Social Media!

Starting on January 18, 2021, and presented daily through February 8, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will include videos released on the Orchestra’s social media channels (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter).

Florence Price (portrait by G. Nelidoff, University of Arkansas Libraries), Leslie Adams, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (Center for Black Music Research Records, Columbia College Chicago Archives & Special Collections)

Members of The Cleveland Orchestra will perform music by Black American composers Florence Price, Leslie Adams, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson in new video recordings filmed at Severance Hall.

  • A composer, pianist, and organist, Florence Price became the first Black American woman to have one of her compositions performed by a major American orchestra. Over the course of her career, she composed more than 300 works and found inspiration in jazz, spirituals, church music, and European art music.
  • Leslie Adams was born in Cleveland and received his bachelor of music degree from Oberlin College. His classical works, which incorporate elements of traditional African-American music, have been performed throughout Ohio and across the U.S., including a 1994 commission from The Cleveland Orchestra titled Western Adventure.
  • Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s music career spanned the genres and mediums of pop, jazz, film, TV, and classical music. In addition to serving as music director for Jerome Robbins’s American Theater Lab and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Perkinson wrote arrangements for Marvin Gaye, Harry Belafonte, and Max Roach, among others. His innovative compositions feature hints of Baroque counterpoint, American Romanticism, blues, and Black folk music.

Community partners from across Northeast Ohio join the Orchestra in this Community Celebration, presenting music, theatre, and dance performances honoring Dr. King’s life and legacy. Partners include:

  • Karamu House
  • Inlet Dance Theatre performing to Maya Angelou’s beloved poem, “Still I Rise.”
  • Djapo Cultural Arts Institute
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Chorus in collaboration with Cuyahoga Community College's (Tri-C) Vocal Arts Mastery Program, both led by Dr. William Henry Caldwell
  • Cleveland School of the Arts/Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra
  • Cuyahoga Community College, Dominick Farinacci with Shenel Johns

Documentary-style videos highlighting Dr. King’s life, his connections to Cleveland, some of his most powerful speeches, and local individuals, such as Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge and YWCA Greater Cleveland CEO Margaret Mitchell, among others, who continue his legacy today appear throughout the multi-week celebration.

The Celebration concludes in early February with the MLK Community Service Awards, which this year recognize several Northeast Ohio organizations who have made extraordinary efforts to serve our community in this extraordinary year of COVID-19 and racial reckoning. 

Find the full 41st Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Schedule HERE:

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