On Sunday, the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra presented “Tribute to MLK,” a celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Dr. King’s legacy is more relevant now, perhaps than when he was alive,” Peter Rubardt, Music Director of the Gulf Coast Symphony, shared. “This concert was entirely written and composed with him in mind.”
The group performed a special program featuring African American composers such as Duke Ellington and William Henry Curry, who wrote “Eulogy for a Dream,” an orchestral piece accompanying a narration of Dr. King’s speeches. Luvada Harrison also performed as the program’s featured soprano.
Radio host Rip Daniels did the reading of Dr. King’s eulogy. He stated, “This is the only reading allowed by the King family. This symphony is significant, and the turnout has been incredible.”
“Symphony orchestras tend to be rooted in the past, but we are making a very conscious effort to increase diversity, variety, and relevance. This is a marvelous opportunity to honor such a great leader, and it has been a real privilege to take this art form and share it in this very specific way this weekend,” Rubardt continued.
The program has been in the works for over a year and is the second of two tributes that the Gulf Cost Symphony has put on that honor Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Much of our support comes from the Gulfport-Biloxi area, but we are working very hard to be the Gulf Coast Symphony for the entire area truly,” Rubardt said. “It means so much to be here in Jackson county today. Chevron is an incredible supporter of us and has been very supportive of this program and GCS in general.”
Will Shurley, Chairman of the Gulf Coast Symphony Board, shared that “the symphony is a labor of love that the community has supported for 61 years.”
Thanks to sponsors and donors, local students were invited to attend the program on Sunday, exposing them to both the fine arts and the importance of the history of the Civil Rights movement.
“It is very telling that we can have a professional orchestra at home through community support and efforts. We don’t have to travel to another state or city. We can partake of this artistry right here at home,” Shurley shared.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy are not forgotten through the community efforts of the Gulf Coast Symphony, its supporters, and the community that attends and appreciates an incredible leader who played a pivotal role in the history of the United States.
“What Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. wanted was civil rights for all, not just a few,” Daniels said. “Civil rights are in the constitution. It’s the application that Dr. King was testing. As a result of his efforts, we bear the fruit of his labors, and we are a better, more united country. It pays homage to how we got here by remembering this and remembering him.”