Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra Presents Free MLK Concert This Saturday:

Niki J. Crawford will perform at Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra’s free concert this Saturday afternoon that celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Niki J. Crawford will perform at Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra’s free concert this Saturday afternoon that celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with its annual Martin Luther King Day concert this Saturday, Jan. 17, at 2:30 pm at the SGI Auditorium, 525 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica.

The concert program includes Dvorak’s uplifting “Symphony No. 8,” Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Ballade in A minor,” and a selection of the best-loved songs of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We feel that this concert is a very special way to celebrate the life and work of Dr. King,” said Symphony conductor and music director Guido Lamell. “This year’s concert is deeply personal because the music we are performing was very dear to him.”

Recording artist Niki J. Crawford joins the Symphony for a soulful rendition of King’s favorite song, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”

“If Dr. King could hear Niki sing this song,” Lamell said. “He would love it even more. She shines a light on the music and the entire audience.”

Also joining the Symphony for Saturday’s concert is the Ward AME Church Choir, under the direction of Ron Lowe.

The choir and Crawford join forces for the anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the iconic and beautiful, “There is a Balm in Gilead.”

“Ron Lowe and the Ward Choir are a dynamic team and their performance of these spirituals is the most exciting and meaningful that I’ve ever experienced,” Lamell said.

The concert concludes with the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”

The audience will be asked to join the Symphony, Crawford, and the choir in singing this song of solidarity embraced by the Civil Rights movement and Dr. King.

“We are honored to be able to host the Santa Monica Symphony and welcome the community to come to the concert and celebrate Dr. King’s life and his relevance to our lives today,” said Ian McIlraith, Director of Peace and Community Relations at SGI. The concert is part of the weekend of events sponsored by the MLK Westside Coalition.

The theme selected by the Coalition for this year’s celebratory weekend is: “The Fierce Urgency of Now.”

Other activities for the weekend begin with an Interfaith Prayer Breakfast this morning, Jan. 16, continue with the Symphony concert Saturday afternoon, and conclude with a celebration and Community Involvement Fair on Monday, Jan. 19.

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The MLK Westside Coalition was founded in 1985 and numbers more than 40 community partners including the City of Santa Monica, Santa Monica College, the Westside Interfaith Council, and the Santa Monica-Venice branch of the NAACP.

MLK Westside Coalition president Darlene Evans encouraged the community to participate this weekend.

“Our weekend of events has grown over the years and the Symphony is an integral part of our celebration,” Evans said. “We hope the community attends the concert as well as the other events in our 30th annual celebration of the life and ideals of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.”

As with all Santa Monica Symphony concerts, admission is free.

Concert parking is also free in the structure at 1212 7th St., just south of Wilshire Blvd.

The Symphony’s final two concerts of the 2014-2015 season will be held Saturday, March 14, at 7:30 pm at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and Saturday, May 23, at 7:30 pm at Barnum Hall on the campus of Santa Monica High School.

For more information, call 310.395.6330 or visit