Celebrating Martin Luther King: Raising our Voices for Freedom

By Rita Zanichkowsky

Each January we stop to reflect on and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s extraordinary impact on civil rights across our country.  This year was particularly striking as the 50th anniversary of his tragic and untimely death. The Sea Change Chorale was honored to be invited back again to perform at this year’s MLK dinner, sharing our mission to promote social justice through song.  The dinner was hosted by NAACP Maine, and other civil and human rights organizations in the state. We offered two rousing sets with songs of freedom, hope and community to an appreciative crowd as they poured into the Holiday Inn by the Bay on January 15, 2018.  The bitter cold outside was offset by the warmth and sense of common purpose within.

Our musical offerings included Wondrous Love (a traditional shape note tune); Walk a Mile (by Pepper Choplin), evoking empathy for others; Breaths (by Birago Diop and Ysaye Barnwell) which speaks to sustained connection to our ancestors; and Maurice Durufle’s Ubi Caritas, a brilliant choral version of the ancient Gregorian Chant that reads “Where hope and charity are, there is a Spirit.”  All of our song choices were guided by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s enduring message of faith, community, and love.

At one special moment, our chorale was joined by an unexpected guest.  As Senator Angus King made his way through the crowd and passed our group, he stopped to offer his appreciation for our musical contribution.  As it happened, our very next song in the lineup was America The Beautiful.  Seizing this perfect opportunity, our Artistic Director, Deirdre McClure, invited the Senator to join us (assuring him he’d recognize the song).  He sang with gusto, sharing the music with our own Kate O’Neill.  What a wonderful moment for our chorus!

Senator Angus King (I-ME) joining Sea Change Chorale at the MLK dinner 2018

We ended our set with one of our favorite pieces, Faithful, a dynamic Gospel tune that energized the crowd even further for the evening of inspiring speakers that awaited them.

What a delight and a privilege it was for our chorus to participate in this year’s MLK evening!

Rita Zanichkowsky joined Sea Change Chorale in 2016 and appreciates the commitment of its members, the camaraderie and the chance to make glorious music together. She has sung in choruses most of her life, after early exposure to choral music growing up at home.

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