Cleveland Orchestra Announces Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

By Francisco Salazar

The Cleveland Orchestra has announced details for its 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, which will take place virtually due to the ongoing pandemic.

In the organization’s 41st year of offering music to celebrate and reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King, the orchestra will provide different experiences for audiences from Jan. 14 through early February.

In a statement, André Gremillet, President & CEO of The Cleveland Orchestra, said, “While it is sadly not possible for all of us to gather at Severance Hall for this year’s concert, The Cleveland Orchestra is committed to continuing the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration into its 41st year. Every year, we honor the legacy of Dr. King by offering inspiring and meaningful music performances to our community. This year, we will present free video performances through our Adella streaming service and social media networks — and through radio and TV broadcasts with our partners at ideastream.”

The celebration will include the works of Black composers George Walker, Florence Price, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and Cleveland native Leslie Adams in new and recent video recordings performed by members of The Cleveland Orchestra.

The celebration will also include an opportunity to watch the 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert for free on Adella. The concert featured Music Director Franz Welser-Möst leading The Cleveland Orchestra, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Chorus, soloist Ryan Speedo Green, and narrator James Pickens, Jr.

The 2018 Cleveland Orchestra celebration will be available for viewing free through the Adella digital streaming service beginning on Jan. 14, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. until April 14, 2021.

The Cleveland Orchestra’s 38th annual free concert in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took place at Severance Hall on Jan. 14, 2018, and 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.”