Review: Cleveland Orchestra’s pandemic-delayed Celebration Concert, spanning MLK and Juneteenth

Posted on: June 7, 2022

“The Cleveland Orchestra’s 42nd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert … postponed from January to June, … went forward Saturday in glorious style,” writes Zachary Lewis in Saturday’s (6/5) Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH). “The MLK, Jr. Celebration Chorus remained a force to be reckoned with, as did the Cleveland Orchestra, and the sound of 2,000 voices singing all three verses [of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’] in unison extended its reign as the event’s musical highlight…. Saturday’s concert … also served as an early celebration of Juneteenth, the new federal holiday marking the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans…. For the first time at Severance, almost every [musical] bar stemmed from a composer of color…. Two composers on the program have at last become the household names they deserve to be, the shining lights of an earlier era: William Grant Still and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor…. ‘Celebration,’ a swirling, swinging work commissioned in 1993 by the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra [was composed by] Dolores White, the accomplished local pianist, conductor, and teacher, and winner of one of this year’s Cleveland Orchestra Distinguished Service Awards.” Associate Conductor Vinay Parameswaran led the concert, which also included music by Beethoven, Mary Watkins, Carlos Simon, and Brian Raphael Nabors.