The Composer’s perspective
We all have dreams, hopes and aspirations. For Dr Martin Luther King Jr the dream was a future of racial equality, understanding and freedom for all men, women and children. His message sowed the seeds of hope internationally and served to motivate and unify people throughout the world that craved freedom from oppression.
Where Dreams Lead… is a jazz suite written by composer and pianist, Peter Edwards that explores the period from of Dr King’s most famous ‘I have a dream’ speech in 1963 to his most prophetic words the day before his assassination in 1968.
The suite begins by expressing the overwhelming excitement his 1963 speech stirred up 50 years ago in Washington DC on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He inspired a generation and was propelled to international status as a defender of human rights following his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
The second movement acknowledges the difficulties and frustration he faced in the years following the rise of the ‘black power’ movement. It’s popularity split the civil rights movement and marginalised King’s approach to non-violent protest.
He became a symbol of hope throughout the world and accepted invitations to spread his message. His journey to England in 1967 to accept a honorary doctorate from the University of Newcastle is the theme of the third movement.
The final movement, I’ve seen the promised land refers to the profound outpouring of grief upon his assassination but ends with a message of hope.
‘I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land.’
The suite reminds us of his belief and conviction. It uses the medium of improvisation to convey his message of freedom and its ensemble writing to represent the solidarity of the people and the struggle that still continues today throughout the world.
Where Dreams Lead also forms part of Southbank Centre’s The Rest Is Noise Festival