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Jan. 10, 2022

MSU Music celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

A free jazz concert commemorating the civil rights leader will be held Jan 16.

Note: Proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test required for admittance. Learn more

MSU College of Music’s annual “Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest” concert celebrating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. will be performed at 3 p.m. on Jan. 16 in the Fairchild TheatreInterested viewers who may be unable to come to the venue are invited to watch the  live digital broadcast on the College of Music’s Livestream channel.  

The concert is part of MSU’s 42nd annual university-wide celebration commemorating the civil rights leader. “Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest” is among the first events in a week-long slate of activities themed “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” coordinated by MSU’s Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.

“This year’s theme for the annual celebration of Dr. King is extremely fitting as we reflect on societal and cultural challenges that affect equality among people,” said Rodney Whitaker, University Distinguished Professor of jazz bass and director of the MSU Jazz Studies Program. “Our program this year includes pieces that reflect on the human experience as we aspire to a more just and equitable world.”

The MSU Jazz Orchestra I will be led by guest conductor Charles Tolliver — a celebrated trumpeter, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator who made his recording debut with saxophone giant Jackie McLean in the early 1960s. Tolliver’s arrangements for the program include selections from John Coltrane’s African Brass, including “Blues Minor,” “The Damned Don’t Cry,” “The Song of the Underground Railroad,” “Africa,” and the traditional arrangement of “Greensleeves.” The concert will also feature performances by Damien Sneed, a multi-genre recording artist and instrumentalist who has worked with jazz, classical, pop, and R&B legends, including the late Aretha Franklin and Jessye Norman. Sneed will be an artist in residence at the College of Music from Jan. 17–18, and will cap his residency with “Our Song, Our Story,”, Jan.18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Wharton Center.

The 42nd Annual Celebration of MLK Day features additional events, many of them virtual, including a commemorative film series, march, unity dinner, social justice art festival, roundtable discussions and more. A full list of events can be found on the MSU Office of Inclusion website.

“Jazz: Spirituals, Pray and Protest” is generously sponsored by Patrick McPharlin. The event is free, but tickets are required for admission. Tickets are available over the phone at (517) 353-5340 or for pick-up from the College of Music main office in Room 102 of Music Building, 333 W. Circle Drive, East Lansing, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Remaining tickets will be made available at the door. Please note that unclaimed will-call tickets will be released 10 minutes prior to the event.

To help maintain a safe concert-going experience, proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is required of all attendees ages 12 and up. This policy is part of new university directives for COVID-19  announced Jan. 1. Details can be found on the College of Music’s website under MSU Music COVID-19 directives, along with answers to commonly asked questions on the College’s FAQ webpage.

Information on this and other concerts, recitals and performances can be found on the MSU College of Music website.

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