Michael Abels begins 2014 with three (!) performances of his acclaimed orchestral tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — Dance for Martin’s Dream. Co-commissioned by the Houston and Nashville Symphonies, Dance for Martin’s Dream received a partial premiere in Houston in June 1997 (conducted by Stephen Stein), followed by Nashville’s premiere of the complete version in January 1998, led by Karen Deal.
Dance for Martin’s Dream returns to the Nashville Symphony on January 19, when conductor and chorus director Kelly Corcoran leads the work as part of its “Let Freedom Sing 2014” concert. “Dance for Martin’s Dream is a great work,” Corcoran shares. “The Nashville Symphony has a long history of commissioning works and creating new pieces or arrangements for our annual MLK program. It was co-commissioned by the Nashville Symphony and it is exciting to present a work that we commissioned and premiered. I was also looking for a piece that would feature and highlight the orchestra by focusing on its virtuosity and depth of artistry. Dance for Martin’s Dream is the perfect piece! I think the work is an outstanding contribution to the repertoire whether for an MLK concert or any program. While the legacy and tribute of Dr. King is interwoven into the inspiration of the work, the music stands alone as an excellent orchestral showcase. The opening passage is quite reflective and pensive and then the work explodes into an exuberant section that mingles many different styles together. It’s captivating up to the last moment. The work is also brimming with excitement and rhythmic interest as well as chanting passages for the orchestral players. I know that they will be excited to play a piece that is moving, relevant, engaging and fun to perform.”
Dance for Martin’s Dream also gets a hearing at the San Diego Symphony on January 29 and 30. Adrienne Valencia — Director of Education — comments, “With four Young People’s Concerts scheduled over two days that are [taking place] around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I knew I wanted to design the program around that [theme]. After listening to some suggestions, I decided [Dance for Martin’s Dream] would be the best fit for our ‘Everyday Heros’ program. The contrasts within the piece make it interesting…[and since] we’re going to have almost 1770 kids from all over San Diego County attending, I think kids would find it fun to listen to. It highlights different sections of the orchestra which [also] makes it a good orchestral-teaching work.”
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