Gannon University’s Erie Chamber Orchestra Honors Martin Luther King Day

Posted: January 15, 2015

An innovative multimedia composition will join music by a distinguished African-American composer and a Gershwin masterpiece on the program of the Erie Chamber Orchestra's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day concert.

The concert on Friday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m. will take place at the Cathedral Preparatory School Auditorium, 250 W. Tenth St. It will open with the "Fanfare on Amazing Grace" by Adolphus Hailstork, who is currently a professor of music and composer in residence at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, followed by a suite of music from Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess."

The main work on the program is Peter Boyer's "Ellis Island," a multi-movement suite that combines projected visuals accompanying the music and dramatic readings of testimony of immigrants who arrived in America at the island, which was the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954.

The immigrants' reminiscences will be read by Gannon University students from the Schuster Theatre, Cassie Bielecki, Mike Haas, Megan Hamm, Chase Miles, Lauren Loop, Zakary Westfall and Brianna Woods.

"Dr. King's vision and the legacy of how this great nation was founded is what we want to share through this performance of 'Ellis Island,'" said Matthew Kraemer, the orchestra's music director who will conduct the concert.

The community, too, will be strongly represented on the concert program. 

The Rev. Charles Mock, pastor of Community Baptist Church in Erie, will read Martin Luther King's "Drum Major Instinct" sermon, student musicians and singers from the LifeThruMusic program, led by director Corey Cook, will present Sam Cooke's classic "A Change Is Gonna Come," and dancer James Dixon and vocalist Jonathan Baker will reprise a selection from "Gone Fishin'," a revue produced by Baker and his father, Parris Baker, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work. The MLK Choir, will provide a stirring punctuation to the concert under the direction of McCludia Nolley.

Like every program in the orchestra's 36-year history, the King Day program is free and open to the public.