Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 83 today, January 15, 2012, had he not been struck down by a sniper’s bullet on April 4, 1968. He was only 39, but consider what he was able to accomplish in those few years. Our nation was shown a better way to live and treat others through his words and actions. As younger generations, both black and white, learn of this “larger than life” figure only through recorded historical accounts or the ever decreasing first hand accounts of persons who knew him, I can only hope we will continue to honor him as one of the greatest persons of the 20th Century. While a national holiday exists to commemorate his life, it would be unfortunate if it became nothing more than just another “day off” for the majority of Americans.
I have always believed one of the best ways to honor Dr. King on his special day is to do something of value in his memory. For that reason, MOS regularly rehearses on MLK Day each year. Always at this particular rehearsal I am reminded how important it is for us to learn and perform music that moves us to a higher plain. We are fortunate this year to be doing that with Beethoven’s Mass in C Major. There is even a “King-Beethoven” connection in one of MLK’s quotes. King uses Beethoven’s music as an example of something being done at the very highest level, and he reminds us in his statement of the importance of doing anything we do to the best of our ability. Here’s the quote: