UTC Hosts 'O King: a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr' on 3/9

Mar 8, 2017

 Dr. Jonathan McNair joins us to discuss "O King," a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that will feature music and spoken-word performances. At the event, two new instrumental works by Dr. Jonathan McNair will premiere.


Try to imagine what life might be like in the United States if Martin Luther King, Jr. had not developed his ideas and dreams about a more equal and equitable society for all Americans? What if he had not delivered his eloquent, powerful speeches and sermons that moved millions of citizens to work together, peacefully, for social justice? What if he and his fellow workers had not had the courage to face brutal opposition and arrest?

On Thursday, March 9, the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be celebrated in a gala multi-disciplinary event titled “O King.” This event will take place in the Roland Hayes Concert Hall at the UTC Fine Arts Center. There will be music ranging from Gospel and Spirituals to Jazz and classical music by Black composers, with performers from across campus and the community. Additionally, there will be world premieres of two new instrumental works based on Spirituals, composed by the Ruth S. Holmberg Professor of American Music, Dr. Jonathan McNair.

In between performances, faculty members from the departments of Political Science, Criminal Justice, and Philosophy will be joined by campus and community leaders to offer brief spoken reflections about various aspects of Martin Luther King’s impact on our society, and how we might benefit from his ideas even now in today’s world.

These spoken reflections will be offered by Rev. Paul McDaniel, who has a long history of civic leadership and ministry in Chattanooga; Dr. Bryan Samuel, Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity; Dr. Michelle Deardorf, the Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Government and Head of Political Science and Public Service; Dr. Gale Iles, Department of Criminal Justice; and Dr. Ethan Mills, Department of Philosophy.

Musicians include vocalist Neshawn Calloway, with the UTC Faculty Jazz combo; the Littleton H Mason Gospel Singers; the UTC Chamber Singers; tenor Jeron Burney; violinists Josh Holritz, Melody Poke, and Caroline Drexler, violist Megan Chisolm, and cellist Heather Anderson; and more.

Musical selections include “Lift Every Voice,” and two Spirituals arranged by Roland Carter, (Professor Emeritus); “Precious Lord,” by Thomas A. Dorsey; “Come Sunday” by Duke Ellington; “Fight On,” by Kevin Davidson; “Romance” for alto saxophone and piano by William Grant Still, a significant African American composer; “Trouboed Water,” by Margaret Bonds, and African American composer and pianist; and “Postscript to Human Decency” and “All a-Cryin’” by Jonathan McNair, both of which were composed in response to issues of social justice.

This event will be followed by a reception in the Lobby of the Fine Arts Center. The public is invited, and admission and parking are free. The facility is wheelchair accessible.

For more information, contact Dr. Jonathan McNair, jonathan-mcnair@utc.edu, (423) 425-4679.

A little about some of the musicians: Neshawn Calloway, mezzo-soprano, teaches at the Center for Creative Arts High School, and is a freelance performing artist as well. Roland Carter, who arranged three of the selections on the program, is known across America and beyond for his work with choral music and his expertise in Negro Spirituals. Josh Holritz, violinist, is the Associate Concert Master of the Chattanooga Symphony. William Grant Still was the first African American composer to have his work performed by a major US orchestra, and also the first African American to conduct a major orchestra. The UTC Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Kevin Ford, have toured internationally and within the USA. Dr. Jonathan McNair’s music has been performed across the US and in five other countries. Clint Schmitt, saxophonist, and David Walters, pianist, are well-known in the region for playing both Jazz and Classical music.