Show 208: Listening Guide

On January 3, 2010 From the Top taped a special program dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston, MA. Here is what the performers had to say about the music they played on the show, which airs this week.

Christopher O'Riley with the Boston Children's Chorus. Credit: Caroline Cardiasmenos

Boston Children’s Chorus
Kasar mie la gaji (The Earth is Tired) by Alberto Grau
There’s one part that a lot of us like where we “wail,” which corresponds with the words “The Earth is tired.” Once we sang this song and got so carried away with the emotions and sung so quickly, we actually felt like we were about to collapse, exhausted like the earth.

MLK by U2, Arr. by Bob Chilcott
This seemingly simple song turns out to be really profound and moving for us. Much of the song includes held out notes. This simple, peaceful aspect of the song unifies us all. We all also like the sudden and simple dynamic changes in this song. We think its profound and gentle yet powerful nature reflects Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership style of nonviolent action.

Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra String Quartet
III. Allegro vivace from Quartet No. 1 (Calvary) by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson

Sasha Scolnnik-Brower, 15, cello
It has a very interesting style. It is tonal yet not always comfortable to listen to, but very elegant. I think that the level of energy the music emotes is key to the understanding and enjoyability of the piece.

Alexandra Morgan-Welch, 17, viola
This piece is much more rhythmically complex than others in my repertoire. Although it is the hardest aspect of this piece, it is also the most fun and interesting.

I think that it is very rare that we get to play a piece by an African-American composer. There is an amazing history behind African-American classical composers’ struggle to get their music heard, played, and respected and appreciated. I think this performance is a great way to honor that.

Chaz Salazar, 17, flute
Summerland by William Grant Still
The piece isn’t difficult in the technical sense, but to achieve the exact colors and to communicate the overall message of the piece is the difficult part. The piece is very lyrical and conveys the idea of summer really well. My favorite part of the piece is near the end where it goes to the third octave of the flute. It gives me chills.