The Philadelphia Orchestra Presents Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concert at Girard College January 20, 2020

Posted on January 08, 2020
Concert concludes Global Citizen’s Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service, the largest King Day event in the country


Philadelphia Orchestra broadcast partner WRTI 90.1 FM to air the concert live


(Philadelphia, January 8, 2020)––The Philadelphia Orchestra, in partnership with Girard College and Global Citizen’s Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, is proud to present its 30th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concert held at the Girard College Chapel on Monday, January 20, at 4:00 PM. Led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the concert concludes the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest King Day of Service event in the country. Tickets to the concert are free and available starting today on The concert is generously presented by PECO, with additional support provided by the Annenberg Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The program will be broadcast live on WRTI 90.1 FM.

The 90-minute program showcases works by African-American composers such as Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise” and the spiritual “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” performed by the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts choir; and Umoja, Anthem for Unityby Valerie Coleman, a work premiered by the Orchestra earlier this season as part of the ensemble’s WomenNOW celebration. In addition, the Orchestra will perform Barber’s Adagio for Strings with a recitation of excerpts from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by speaker Charlotte Blake Alston, a stirring arrangement that has become an event staple for the past 15 years. The concert will also include audience participation in Pauline Oliveros’s “Tuning Meditation” from Four Mediations for Orchestra, and a performance of the third movement from Lalo’s Cello Concerto featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra debut of cellist Sterling Elliot, winner of the 2019 National Sphinx Competition Senior Division.

“On behalf of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra, we are honored to participate in such an inspirational day of service with members of our beloved Philadelphia communities,” said Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. “Today we celebrate Dr. King’s vision of a better world through the power of music, and music’s power to bring out the best in people and to unite us all.”

“Global Citizen is excited to partner for the sixth consecutive year with the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra for the finale of the 25th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service at Girard College,” said Todd Bernstein, president of Global Citizen and founder and director of the King Day of Service. “This extraordinary annual concert celebrating Dr. King’s legacy is made even more special by the rich diversity of the audience, who come from all backgrounds and ages.”

The Philadelphia Orchestra is proud to collaborate with PECO on this event. PECO has proudly supported the Orchestra’s programs and events for over 20 years. This year’s concert sponsorship expands PECO’s support of the Orchestra’s innovative programming and the many Martin Luther King Day of Service activities throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concert, first presented in 1991, reflects the beliefs and convictions of the famed civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and combines the traditions of African-American culture and Western classical music. The concert pays tribute to Dr. King’s vision of a society free of prejudice and racial divisions, and his belief in the power of music to effect change. For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, visit

Girard College is a college preparatory boarding school for students in grades one through 12 from families with limited financial resources, each headed by a single parent or guardian. Endowed by the will of Stephen Girard in 1831, Girard College has educated generations of students since it opened in Northeast Philadelphia in 1848. In keeping with its founder’s commitment to life-changing opportunities, all students are awarded full scholarships to attend Girard College. Visit for more information.

PECO, founded in 1881, is Pennsylvania’s largest electric and natural gas utility. Headquartered in Philadelphia, PECO delivers energy to more than 1.6 million electric customers and more than 516,000 natural gas customers in southeastern, Pennsylvania. The company’s 2,500 employees are dedicated to the safe and reliable delivery of electricity and natural gas as well as enhanced energy management conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. PECO was named 2017 Best Mid-size Employer in Philadelphia by Forbes magazine. The company also has an estimated annual economic impact of $4.3 billion in Pennsylvania, supporting more than 8,700 local jobs and producing $732 million in labor income. PECO is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation's only Fortune 100 utility and leading competitive energy provider. For more information visit, and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.


Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concert

January 20 at 4:00 PM—Monday afternoon—Girard College Chapel


Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor


Charlotte Blake Alston Speaker

Choir of the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts

B. Lauren Thomas Director


Coleman Umoja, Anthem for Unity

Lalo Third movement from Cello Concerto

Handel/arr. Warren “Hallelujah,” from Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration

Oliveros “The Tuning Meditation,” from Four Meditations for Orchestra

Barber Adagio for Strings

Smallwood “Total Praise”

Johnson “Lift Every Voice and Sing”


The concert is free, but tickets are required and available starting today at Seating is general admission and on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets do not guarantee entry and there is a limit of four per household. Doors will open at 3:30 PM.

The concert will be broadcast live on WRTI 90.1 FM and available online at

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concert is presented by PECO. Additional funding for this concert is provided by the Annenberg Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


About The Philadelphia Orchestra


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Natalie Lewis


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Ashley Stahmer


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