7th Annual Coretta Scott King Tribute Concert Set For This Month

The free concert will take place on Monday, February 26 at 7:30 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall.

By: Feb. 06, 2024
7th Annual Coretta Scott King Tribute Concert Set For This Month

New England Conservatory (NEC) invites the public to join a poignant musical tribute to Coretta Scott King's "Life. Love. Legacy." The 7th Annual Coretta Scott King Tribute Concert is a moving celebration co-curated by NEC’s Black Student Union and Castle of our Skins. The free concert will take place on Monday, February 26 at 7:30 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall. This year's concert holds special significance as it marks the 70th anniversary of Coretta Scott King's graduation from NEC, where King studied music education and voice (’54, ’71 Hon. DM). The concert promises to be an immersive experience that honors a remarkable artist and activist.

NEC is thrilled to collaborate with Castle of our Skins, a Boston-based organization dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music, co-founded by NEC alumnae violist Ashleigh Gordon ’08 MM and composer Anthony R. Green ’08 MM. Together, NEC students, Castle of our Skins, and guest artists will bring to life a program that resonates with the spirit and principles of Coretta Scott King.

“As we walk through the hallways of NEC, I am reminded that we walk in the footsteps of the legacy of Coretta Scott King. Mrs. King effected change through her artistry, grounded in an ethos of love, courage, spirituality, and community,” says Monique Van Willingh, NEC’s Director of Cultural Equity and Belonging. “Mrs. King understood the importance of legacy and remembrance. This is evident in her formidable contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, founding the King Center, and helping to establish a national holiday. Her life, love, and legacy remind us that creating community in ways that the Black Student Union at NEC and Ashleigh Gordon through Castle of our Skins have done in Boston and nationally are profound acts of transformation.”

“It’s been a wonderful experience getting to work alongside NEC’s Black Student Union organizers Lemuel Marc and Emma Boyd to put this concert together,” Castle of our Skins’ Artistic Director Ashleigh Gordon remarks. “As an alumna who didn’t have an affinity space like a BSU to lean on, it’s an honor to co-create this experience; one that simultaneously showcases history while celebrating up-and-coming voices.” 

 Coretta Scott King, a trailblazing activist and soprano, is one of NEC's most notable graduates (’54, ’71 Hon. DM). Known for her unwavering commitment to peace, dedication to family, and incredible sense of purpose, Coretta Scott King's legacy extends beyond her pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. Her life as an artist, dedicated to using music as a vehicle for social change through her Freedom Concerts and beyond, is a testament to her extraordinary contributions to both the arts and human rights.

 This year’s concert, themed "Life. Love. Legacy" in homage to Mrs. King’s autobiography, entitled “My Life, My Love, My Legacy,” delves into the principles that defined Coretta Scott King’s remarkable life as an artist and activist.

The musical journey begins with "Life," juxtaposing her faith in peace and God against the violent racial hatred of the South in the early to mid-20th century. Along with guest narrator Monique Van Willingh, NEC’s BSU, Castle of our Skins, and guest musicians from Berklee and the Boston Conservatory perform:
 

Maxwell Fairman, String Quartet No. 1   
Forbes Graham, More Cornbread, Please
Lemuel Marc, Bend the Sky
Frederick C. Tillis, Spiritual Fantasy No. 12; II. Wade in the Water

 "Love" explores King's deep love for humanity, peace, her husband, and her family:

Mason Bynes, Songs for the People
Jessie Montgomery, Rhapsody No. 1                                                                         
Regina Harris Baiocchi, Karibu
Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway, Where is the love?   

In the final segment, "Legacy," the concert honors King's perseverance, faith-driven activism, message of non-violence, and global impact in shaping justice and human rights.


Joseph Haydn, “Sunrise” Quartet Op. 76 No. 4, “Allegro con spirito”
Jonathan Bailey Holland, Coretta Scott King from American Voices                 
Frederick C. Tillis, Spiritual Fantasy No. 12; IV. I'm a rollin'




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