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Springfield Symphony Orchestra to Celebrate MLK with ‘Audacity of Hope’ on Jan. 14

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will celebrate the life and spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. on the Symphony Hall stage at its next concert on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Music of African-American composers will be performed by the orchestra and guest pianist Artina McCain, and highlighted by a spoken-word presentation by Springfield’s poet laureate, Magdalena Gómez.

Tickets are on sale, starting at $15, on the SSO website, www.springfieldsymphony.org.

Kevin Scott, an African-American conductor, composer, and native New Yorker, will lead the orchestra on Jan. 14. Born in the Bronx and raised in Harlem, Scott has led various orchestras, choruses, and bands throughout the Greater New York area and in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Varna, Bulgaria. His works have been performed by the orchestras of Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.

Concert attendees will hear works such as “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson, arr. Hale Smith); “Rise to the Occasion” (Quinn Mason); “The Audacity of Hope” (Ozie Cargile II); and “Fannie’s Homecoming,” composed by the evening’s conductor, who has been inspired by the legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer, a leader in the civil-rights movement. Music of Florence Price and William Grant Still will also be performed.

Two of the composers whose works will be performed, Mason and Cargile, will be in the audience on Jan. 14. Mason is a composer and conductor based in Dallas who currently serves as artist in residence of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Cargile is a Los Angeles-based composer and pianist, originally from Detroit, whose music has been performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Boulder Symphony.

Scott will be joined on the Symphony Hall stage by McCain, a pianist who, throughout her career, has been dedicated to promoting the works of Black and other underrepresented composers.

A first for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, there will be a spoken-word presentation by Gómez, a renowned and award-winning performance poet, playwright, performer, teaching artist, and highly sought-after keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. She is also co-founder and artistic director of Teatro V!da, building youth leadership through the arts with a special focus on the creation of youth-generated multi-media performance works in collaboration with professional adult artists.

According to Paul Lambert, interim executive director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, “Gómez’s contribution of the spoken word in honor of Dr. King will offer testimony to the power of words, in honor of the civil-rights icon whose prose and language moved the nation with a profound call to the ‘urgency of now.’”

A ‘classical conversation’ with Scott will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 14 for all ticketholders, and there will be a meet and greet following the performance in the Mahogany Room.

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