“Much about this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Concert was different,” writes Zachary Lewis in Monday’s (1/15) Plain Dealer (Cleveland). “The core message, however, and the spirit behind it, were the same as always. Even as the centennial-observing Cleveland Orchestra varied Sunday’s event with a multimedia display and the conducting of music director Franz Welser-Möst, the sold-out concert at Severance Hall on the eve of King’s birthday stood as ever as an earnest, rousing ode to equality and peace. Even the ticketing process was unusually democratic. This year, instead of giving out 2,000 free tickets on a first-come, first-served basis, the orchestra held a lottery.… There were requests for some 10,000 tickets.” In addition to the orchestra, performers included “the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Chorus, a large and energetic vocal ensemble composed of volunteers, singers from Northeast Ohio churches, and the members of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus…. The surprise orchestral hit of the night was ‘Pines of the Appian Way’ from Respighi’s ‘Pines of Rome.’ Coming on the heels of King’s bold words, the musical depiction of the Roman army on the march took on a whole new and even more potent meaning.”

Posted January 18, 2018