Reflect and Rejoice

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Reflect and Rejoice: A Musical Tribute to Dr Martin Luther King Jr is an annual tribute concert jointly sponsored by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Alys Stephens Center in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. The program is held on the Sunday afternoon before Martin Luther King Day. It has typically been conducted by guest Leslie Dunner, music director for the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Illinois.


The inaugural concert was held on January 16, 2005 and was conducted by Leslie Dunner. The program featured cellist Patrice Jackson in Robert Schumann's Cello Concerto in A Minor (Opus 129). The Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir took the stage for the second half of the program, featuring a Henry Panion symphonic arrangement of Edwin Hawkins' funk-gospel treatment of the 18th century hymn "Oh Happy Day".


The January 15, 2006 featured Dunner conducting, guest pianist Stewart Goodyear, and the UAB Concert Choir.



The January 20, 2008 concert featured several works Aaron Copland and a song cycle composed and arranged by conductor Leslie Dunner. The second half of the program led off with James Kimo Williams' "Fanfare for Life".


The January 18, 2009 concert featured five works by Aaron Copland (the "Party Scene and Finale" from The Tender Land, arrangements of the traditional songs "Zion's Walls" and "Ching-A-Ring Chaw", and A Lincoln Portrait and "Fanfare for the Common Man" with narration by Dennis Pope.) and several arrangements by Andre Previn. Soprano Bronwyn Forbay was featured in the first half of the program. The Alabama A&M University Choir took the stage after intermission. Elias Hendricks sang tenor. The program was conducted by Leslie Dunner. The A&M Choir was directed by Horace Carney, Jr.



A new symphonic work, "Dream, Child. Hope" was commissioned for the 2011 concert from African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork. The piece incorporates poetry written by three girls from Birmingham, inspired by the 1963 church bombing. Other works performed included Martin Abels' "Dance for Martin's Dream", and Daniel Bernard Roumain's "The Tuscaloosa Meditations", and "Voodoo Violin Concerto", which he performed.



The January 20 concert was one of the inaugural events in the year-long, city-wide 50 Years Forward anniversary of the Birmingham Campaign and other events of 1963. Two new works by Henry Panion, "Here We Are" and "Send Me Hope" were premiered. The first featured a small ensemble of young female voices from 16th Street Baptist Church's youth choir and the second, co-written by gospel artist Maquita Anthony, featured her lead vocal and the Aeolian choir from Oakwood College in Huntsville. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Roderick Cox at the Alys Stephens Center.


The Sunday, January 19 concert at the Alys Stephens Center featured the orchestra conducted by Roderick Cox along with the Aeolian choir of Oakwood University. The program included Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" (1893) by Antonín Dvořák along with Arnold Schönberg's "Peace on Earth" (1907) and a selection of choral works.


  • Huebner, Michael (December 17, 2008) "Adolphus Hailstork to compose new work for Alabama Symphony to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." The Birmingham News
  • Huebner, Michael (January 16, 2011) "ASO takes new approach to honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., in annual tribute." The Birmingham News