Cleveland Orchestra postpones MLK celebration concert, citing virus transmission issues

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – There’s really only one time it hurts to come together to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., and that’s right now, during a wave of the virus.

On Thursday, driven by the record number of COVID-19 cases and the high rate of transmission in Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland Orchestra announced the postponement of its 2022 Martin Luther King, Jr. celebratory concert and open house for the community day.

The event, initially spread over Sunday and Monday January 16-17, will now take place at the Severance Music Center on a single day, Saturday June 4. It will remain free and open to the public, as always.

One of the most popular and attended events of the year at the Cleveland Orchestra, the MLK concert regularly sees packed houses with over 2,000 guests and performers seated and standing side by side. The event also typically includes songs to sing along to hymns such as “We Shall Overcome” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

Postponing to June 4, orchestra officials said they hoped they could preserve these traditions. The later date also allows the orchestra to observe the new federal holiday of June 19, the date in 1865 when slavery was completely abolished in Confederation.

The postponement comes at the right time, just two days before Saturday, January 8, when the orchestra planned to release free tickets for the concert online, by phone and in person. A new date and distribution plan will now be announced closer to June.

The postponed concert should resemble the originally planned event in many ways. Associate Conductor Vinay Parameswaran will always lead a festive and diverse program featuring soprano Jacqueline Echols, narrator Tony Sias and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Chorus, prepared by William Henry Caldwell. The fate of the community open house remains to be decided, the orchestra said.

As for MLK Day itself, the orchestra doesn’t leave music lovers behind. Instead of a live concert and community open house, the orchestra is offering free access to a video of its 2018 celebratory concert, on the Adella streaming platform. The concert will be available on adella.live from Monday January 17 to Monday February 28. For more information on this concert or any other Cleveland Orchestra concert, visit clevelandorchestra.com.


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