Local choirs head to D.C. to celebrate ‘I Have a Dream’ 60th anniversary

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 11:53 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Two local choirs are heading to D.C. to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Before the We Have a Dream Choral Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on June 18 in D.C., the South Bend Symphonic Choir and the Elkhart Community Chorus are giving Michiana residents a chance to preview the United in Purpose concert at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

The choirs are teaming up to celebrate the anniversary of MLK’s I Have a Dream speech and help promote social justice and racial equality.

“Especially now, in our day, the political climate, things that are going on in our world are dividing us rather than uniting us, and I think through song, we really can come together, not just through song but through the arts, and that’s what a meaningful experience will be performing at the Kennedy Center,” says Juan Carlos Alarcon, Music Director with the Elkhart Community Chorus. “With the Kennedy Center, their mission is to bring cultural awareness and diversity to in their programming and in all of what they do, so it’s an important part of this program and this celebration.”

They will be joined by choirs from Kalamazoo, MI, and West Palm Beach, FL, with 160 voices performing songs written exclusively by African American composers.

“Something, I think in the music world, we’ve been seeing more and more African American composers, that they are part of the canon,” Alarcon said. “The music is great and should be celebrated, and that’s what I want to highlight.”

Juan-Carlos wants to remind people of MLK’s message: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“When we do things by ourselves, sure, we can go fast, but the moment we start bringing people in and collaborating, we can go further,” Alarcon said. “So together in purpose, we can go far and accomplish great things. Yes, we’re different, the color of our skin, our political beliefs, our religious beliefs, (but) if we come together for a common purpose, for a common goal, we can achieve great things here in our community with our lives and our families. When families are strong, our communities are strong. That’s what I want the message to be; we are united in purpose, and just like the festival’s title, We Have a Dream, and that dream should continue, and that’s what will make us better people.”

If you missed the United in Purpose concert, you’ll have another opportunity on June 11, this Sunday, at the First Presbyterian Church in Elkhart at 7:00 p.m.

These are the only two choirs from Indiana that will be performing in D.C. at the Kennedy Center.

Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church is located at 53720 N Ironwood Rd, South Bend, IN 46635.

First Presbyterian Church is located at 200 E Beardsley Ave, Elkhart, IN 46514.

The Elkhart Community Chorus will also be at the Potawatomi Park pavilion on August 26 to continue the MLK “I Have a Dream” speech celebration. The time of that concert is yet to be determined.