Memphis Symphony Orchestra's Martin Luther King Commission, Paul Brantley's 'The Rebirth of the Dream,' to Involve Local Schools
Music and schoolchildren will converge around Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, thanks to an interesting-sounding project in Memphis, the place where King was assassinated in 1968. The Memphis Symphony Orchestra will present a new work called The Rebirth of the Dream, inspired by King's speech, and that work will become a focal point for lessons at elementary schools in the region.
The idea came about from a women's group, some 150-strong, who support MSO music director Mei-Ann Chen in her drive to find ever-deeper ways for music to reach out to the Memphis community. Over a period of months, the women talked through the effect that King's murder had on Memphis--the perspective that lends to the city of today and what they would like it to be tomorrow.
The expression of all of that in music and a concurrent educational project sounds like a natural next step. Composer Paul Brantley, who hails from Georgia and lives in New York, won a competition to write the piece--and a specially-formed ensemble will perform it in fifth grade civics classrooms. It is hoped that the project will be expanded, not least to other communities.
It's a lovely idea. Viewing formative historic events through the prism of music, events that inspire, perhaps especially those that cause pain and split communities, can provide a way of understanding for children--of the events, of what they mean, of music itself and maybe too, understanding of each other.