Dilworth Directs Boston Chorus in King Tribute

Post a Comment » Written on January 27th, 2006     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (January 27, 2006) – Rollo Dilworth says he was humbled by the standing ovation he received while directing the Boston Children’s Chorus, which sang the world premier of his “Trilogy of Dreams” in that city’s recent tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

“It was exciting,” says Dilworth, North Park University associate professor of music and director of the school’s heralded Gospel Choir. “I’ve done a lot of public performance in the last 20 years, and this was one of the highlights.”

Darren Dailey, the chorus’ artistic director, commissioned “Trilogy of Dreams” for “Raising the Roof: Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. in Song,” which was broadcast live from the New England Conservatory.

The conservatory audience included Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. Robin Roberts, the news anchor for Good Morning America, read from King’s speeches and writings. The local ABC Television affiliate broadcast the concert, which also featured two other choirs.

Cable station WGN in Chicago is considering broadcasting the program throughout the Midwest and South. Clips of the music and an interview with the choir’s director were played on Boston’s local radio station WBUR. To listen to some of the material, please visit Tribute.

The trilogy was tied to three Langston Hughes poems. The first movement, “Dreamkeeper,” was based on the poem, “The Dream Keeper.” The second movement, “Dreams,” highlighted the poem of the same name. The third movement, “I Dream,” was based on the poem, “I Dream a World.”

Dilworth says he was living a dream while composing music inspired by one of his favorite poets to honor the man who he calls “one of the greatest visionaries ever to live.” Those are more than just words to Dilworth, who has a special passion for the slain civil rights leader. “One of the things I have to do whenever I travel to a city is find Martin Luther King Drive,” he says.

Seeing those streets always reminds him that much work still needs to be done to make King’s dream of racial equality and harmony a reality. “I’ve never seen one in which the street wasn’t cluttered with litter and the houses in shambles,” Dilworth laments.

The director hopes that his trilogy will help to inspire students for whom King is little more than a person mentioned in a history book.

“We have not made the legacy of Martin Luther King clear enough to this generation,” Dilworth says. “Just doing the ‘I have a dream’ speech has been done so many times it just gets stale and old. We have to think of new ways to make this dream more real, or they are going to forget.”

The concert also was special to Dilworth because the children were singing. “It really was for the children and for the legacy of Martin Luther King,” he says.

Dailey founded the chorus in 2003 with the goal of inspiring social change. The children come from different racial, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. The 131 participants, ranging in age from 7 to 15, come from 39 urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Dilworth does not plan to adapt the trilogy for adults because the piece would lose its power. “I think there’s something about having it done with children’s voices,” he explains.

“I have a responsibility to live out the dream that he cared about,” says Dilworth. “A person who has been called to teach young people can carry the torch.”

(Editor’s note: to read the poems on which the music was based, see the following:


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