While we immersed ourselves in the Mozart Festival this month, we have also been performing special concerts on weekday mornings for an exclusive audience - San Antonio school children. Over 13,000 grade school students made their way from all across the region to the Tobin Center, Judson High School, and the Edgewood Academy for ten SAS Young People's Concerts about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. These concerts featured a diverse range of music that is proudly American, with selections from West Side Story, jazz, gospel, and folk music, interspersed with narratives about the music.
"Programs such as the Celebrating MLK, Jr. Young People's Concerts have the power to open students' eyes not only to the beauty of symphonic music, but to their own cultural awareness and identity," says Jeremy Brimhall, SAS's Director of Education. The concerts also featured several students selected from 144 applicants through a video entry competition to recite Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and many of them gave convincing performances from memory. Dr. King's influential words were then also delivered by guest narrators Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert, UTSA Professor Mario Salas, Mayor of Converse Al Suarez, and SAS Cellist Ryan Murphy in a powerful setting by living American composer Joseph Schwantner.
Additional SAS Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations included a special MLK Community Concert, which included a collaboration with the local MLK Mass choir with their director Jerome Roberson. The MLK Mass Choir was also featured in the Pops program FROM GOSPEL TO BROADWAY, and several of us participated in the MLK Day March.
Dr. King once said "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." The Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony come from across the nation and around the globe, and music is our way to bring people together.