The Choral Arts Society of Washington pays tribute to MLK with “Living the Dream… Singing the Dream”


Arts organizations across America proudly celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley Premieres “Living the Dream… Singing the Dream” (Part 1)

Arts organizations across America proudly celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington presents “Living the Dream… Singing the Dream”.

“This is a program conceived in 1969 by our founder, Norman Scribner … in response to the riots that took place after the assassination,” executive director Tad Czyzewski told OMCP. “It’s a musical celebration of Dr. King’s life and ideals…nothing beats the power of music to unite our differences, heal our wounds and inspire our spirits.”

The 44th Annual Choral Tribute was originally scheduled for January, but due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, it is moved to April 10 at the Kennedy Center.

“Singing is a very complex process that requires people to be very close to each other, pushing air out,” Czyzewski said. “With the omicron levels currently occurring in the DC area, we have decided to move it for the safety of our customers, staff and singers.”

The concert is presented as part of a partnership between the Choral Arts Society of Washington and the Men, Women and Children of the Gospel Choir of Washington Performing Arts.

“There is a composer by the name of Moses Hogan who sadly left us way too soon,” Czyzewski said. “He was this incredible composer and prolific arranger, best known for his spirituals. One of the tracks, “My Soul’s Been Anchored,” ends with that full-throttle sound of all the sopranos on that very high, goosebumps note.”

You’ll also hear a new piece commissioned by DC composer Nolan Williams.

“The play is called ‘We are the ones who heal our land,'” Czyzewski said. “It’s really a response or a call to our generation and our society that we are responsible for addressing climate change, racial inequality and preventing injustice.”

The program also includes “Come Thou Almighty King” by Timothy Wright, “I Opened My Mouth to the Lord” by Lela Anderson, “You’re the Lifter” by Derrick Hall, “Onaga” by Tim Godfrey, “Why Do We Sing by Gail Jones Murphy. », « Stand Up for What’s Right » by BE Boykin, « Didn’t It Rain? by Donald E. Dillard. and “Working While It’s a Day” by Ralph Herndon.

“We are excited to return to live performances on the Kennedy Center Concert Hall stage,” said Czyzewski. “We haven’t played there since (the pandemic). The last time we did this room was in 2020…it’s a room that can hold around 2,200 people and it’s usually packed with everyone and it’s just a phenomenal experience.

The Kennedy Center is appropriate, as JFK was assassinated just five years before MLK.

“President Kennedy played a pivotal role in human rights and equality,” Czyzewski said. “The same with Dr. King. The combination and confluence of these two figures in this space, I think, says a lot… it really is a big space that can bring people together. This program fits well with the ideals of these two prophetic individuals.

The concert will also pay tribute to a current figure in the fight for social justice.

“Each year, we honor a humanitarian who upholds Dr. King’s ideals,” Czyzewski said. “This year, we are very happy that it is LaTosha Brown. She is co-founder of Black Voters Matter. She is internationally recognized as the go-to expert on this topic of voter suppression, black women’s empowerment and philanthropy.

Previous winners include John Lewis, Ruby Bridges and Sherrilyn Ifill.

“Sherrilyn said something prophetic,” Czyzewski said. “His daily life is to fight against inequalities… but it is also the part of each person. It talks about getting the job done, reaching out to someone, reading something, supporting something financially or with your time. It’s that collective sum of little things that adds up.

OMCP’s Jason Fraley presents “Living the Dream… Singing the Dream” (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.


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