For the past several years, I have been researching the musicological and cultural aspects of African and Latin American studies. As we commemorate the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I would like to take a moment to share some examples of pieces by composers inspired by his words and actions. New Morning for the World (1983) by Joseph Schwantner (b. 1943) is an orchestral piece with narrator that features selected text from Dr. King. While most of the text for this work derives from King’s Civil Rights speeches from the 1960s, Schwantner presents this material in fragments to try and offer a more thorough portrayal beyond the “I Have a Dream” speech. Schwanter utilizes texts that concentrate more on chronicling the struggle against oppression and racial inequality. Another piece that deserves mention is “His Light Still Shines” (2002) by contemporary choral composer Moses Hogan (1957-2003). Like New Morning for the World, Hogan incorporates the use of narrator, albeit with a choir. “His Light Still Shines” also serves as a commemoration of the life of Dr. King and his accomplishments, with selected arrangements of spirituals. Most important, Hogan encourages audiences to neither forget nor diminish the legacy of Dr. King decades after his passing. You can find the recording to this piece here.
Thank you for the sharing about how Martin Luther King inspired composers for their works. In music colleges, students usually learn about how Classical Era composers wrote music in response to WWI and WWII. But it's worth knowing that many composers were inspired by many different political and social situations.
Leave a Reply.
DMA. Composer of acoustic and electronic music. Pianist. Experimental film.