Powerhouse ‘MLK Today’ chorus to honor civil rights leader

MIDDLEBURY — This Martin Luther King Day, when members of the college and local communities gather in Middlebury College’s Mead Chapel to celebrate King’s legacy, they will also celebrate the return of guest director Keith McCutchen and his powerhouse MLK Today Choir. The “MLK Today” event on Monday, Jan. 18, will mark McCutchen’s second appearance at Middlebury as conductor of the group, a community choir of students and townspeople.
Last year’s performance featured a five-piece jazz combo, which — together with the choir and fiery words from Dr. King’s Selma speech — had the audience leaping to its feet several times.
This year McCutchen, who is director of the Appalachian State University Gospel Choir, will present a brand new selection of spirituals, gospel tunes, jazz and contemporary music.
The program of speeches will also be new. Just as King adapted his message to the pressing issues of the day, “MLK Today: A Call to Justice, in Speech, Song, and Dance” will turn its attention to our own tumultuous time in race relations.
Speakers from the Middlebury College student group Oratory Now will use Dr. King’s 1966 Soldier Field address as the backdrop for other voices in the movement, past and present, including students reflecting on the role race plays here at Middlebury.
“Our new president, Laurie Patton,” says Oratory Now director Dana Yeaton, “has challenged us to make inclusivity our everyday ethic. We want this year’s event to be part of that ongoing conversation.”
The speakers will perform one piece in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Dance Christal Brown, who is founding artistic director of INSPIRIT, a dance company based in New York City.
“MLK Today” is directed by Dana Yeaton, with musical direction by Jeff Buettner. It is sponsored by the Middlebury College Department of Music and Oratory Now.
“MLK Today” will take place on Monday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m. in Mead Memorial Chapel at Middlebury College. Admission is free. Mead Chapel is located at 75 Hepburn Road on the campus of Middlebury College. Free parking is available on Route 125/College St., and on Old Chapel Road. Some handicap-accessible parking will be available on Hillcrest Road adjacent to the chapel. For more information, call (802) 443-3168 or visit www.middlebury.edu/arts.

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