Triumph of the human spirit: LSO marks MLK Day with free concert Jan. 18 (Official press release)

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and more

The power of music to express the human spirit, and triumph over adversity, will come to life on Sunday, Jan. 18, as the University of Michigan Life Sciences Orchestra presents a free concert at Hill Auditorium.

With themes befitting the eve of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the performance will feature works both famous and less-recognized, played by an orchestra made up of medical, health and science faculty, staff, students and alumni from across U-M.

U-M president Mark Schlissel will give opening remarks, as part of U-M’s celebration of MLK’s legacy.

The concert will begin at 4 p.m., and is open to the public with general admission seating. No tickets are required. LSO music director Adrian Slywotzky will give a brief pre-concert lecture about the works on the program at 3:15 p.m.

The centerpiece of the LSO’s performance will be Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, one of the most famous – and stirring – works of all of classical music. Beethoven composed the now-immortal work amid war and political upheaval, and his own increasing deafness.


Three works by 20th Century American composers will make up the concert’s first half. Most famous among them: Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait”, which combines uniquely American melodies with excerpts from speeches by Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln’s words will be spoken by narrator Carmen R. Green, M.D., who in 2013 was named the inaugural U-M associate vice president for medical affairs and associate dean for Health Equity and Inclusion, a position that leads the U-M Health System’s effort to identify and address inequality in health care and health professions across U-M’s clinical, educational, research, and public missions. Green is a professor in the U-M Medical School and School of Public Health. A noted anesthesiologist and pain medicine physician, she has a national reputation for her leadership on achieving a representative population of women and minorities in the biomedical pipeline, and an international reputation for her seminal research on health and pain care disparities and health policy.

The concert will begin with the “Festive Overture” written in 1944 by William Grant Still. Though he studied medicine as an undergraduate, Still’s musical talents won out and he switched to composition – eventually becoming the first African-American composer to have his work played by, and to conduct, major symphony orchestras.

Samuel Barber’s “Music for a Scene from Shelley”, inspired by Percey Bysshe Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound”, will follow. It evokes the call for the release of Prometheus from captivity, and the return of sympathy and love to mankind.

Slywotzky holds the newly named Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D. Music Director position with the LSO, made possible by a gift from its namesake, the first U-M executive vice president for medical affairs and a longtime supporter of the LSO.

Now in his second season of conducting the LSO, Slywotzky is a graduate student in the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s nationally known orchestral conducting program, from which the LSO has drawn its conductors for its entire 15 years of blending science and music.

The orchestra is part of the Gifts of Art program, which brings the world of art and music to the U-M Health System. The LSO gives members an outlet for their musical talents and a chance to interact with one another across academic disciplines and professions. Founded by students and staff from the U-M Health System, the orchestra made its concert debut in January 2001.


For more information on the concert or the LSO, visit or, send e-mail to, or call (734) 936-ARTS.

For more information about other U-M events honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., visit


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