In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., the 22nd annual “Realizing the Dream” concert will be held on Saturday night at 7:30 in the Moody Music Building. The concert will feature the best current black musicians and composers, and in doing so will celebrate “the shared goals and aspirations personified by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” according to the “Realizing the Dream” website.
Samory Pruitt, the vice president for community affairs and the chair of the committee responsible for organizing the event, said he expects the concert to draw a broad audience, not only because of its uniting message but also because of the variety of music that will be performed.
“This concert attracts a wide range of people across the community because, regardless of one’s age, economics or race, everyone can enjoy the music and benefit from reflecting on the progress we’ve made on equality and social justice since [King’s] time,” Pruitt said. “It’s a celebration of progress.”
Among this year’s featured performers is the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, which has not performed at “Realizing the Dream” concerts before, Pruitt said.
The highlight of the night, he said, will be the joint performance of the orchestra and the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Choir, which is composed of voices from Tuscaloosa’s African Negro Children’s Ensemble and the Prentice Concert Chorale, as well as the University of Alabama’s Afro-American Gospel Choir.
Together, they will perform the world premiere of composer Adolphus Hailstork’s “Dream, Child. Hope,” a piece that was commissioned by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
“Adolphus Hailstork is outstanding,” said Linda Grote, another “Realizing the Dream” committee member and Shelton State’s associate dean for academic services. “‘Dream, Child. Hope’ is a three-part chorale work with orchestra, and it’s based on the poetry of three children from Birmingham. It’s fabulous.”
The concert will also feature conductor Michael Morgan, who is a “champion of arts education and minority access to the arts,” as well as violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, who Grote said is a “real performer” and whose musical interests range from chamber music to electronica. Roumain will perform his compositions “The Tuscaloosa Meditations,” which were commissioned by the University to celebrate its desegregation, and “Voodoo Violin Concerto No. 1.”
“We should have one of the most diverse audiences we’ve ever had this year because the music and the groups participating are so diverse,” Grote said. “It’s truly a celebration of African-American contributions to music, and the music is wonderful.”
The committee was able to select such highly-acclaimed and talented musicians for this year’s concert largely because of the Gloria Narramore Moody Foundation, Grote said.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” she said.
But that’s not to say that world-famous musicians and celebrities haven’t been featured in the past. In past years, James Earl Jones, Sidney Poitier, Maya Angelou and Vivian Malone Jones have performed, among many others.
“The artists have changed, but the intent is still the same,” Pruitt said. “We want to bring top performers to Tuscaloosa so that the community is inspired and entertained. We also want to provide an opportunity for individual reflection.”
Grote said the composition of the selection committee embodies the purpose of the concert.
“It’s about bringing communities together,” she said. “The selection committee is composed of representatives from the University of Alabama, Shelton State and Stillman — a large state university, a public community college and a private college. It’s an opportunity for three distinct academic institutions to work together and promote diversity.”
Tickets for the concert are $15. For more information, visit realizingthedream.ua.edu.