Credit| Mike Ledford

NOTE: Taylor Festival Choir’s Jan. 16 at Second Presbyterian Church concert was postponed due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Charleston area. The event will now be held on March 27.

Updated Feb. 18 | Taylor Festival Choir got its start in 2001, and since then, the professional choir that currently consists of 24 singers has been recorded by its share of commercial labels and considered for a Grammy in multiple categories for the recording, “So Hallow’d the Time.” 

The choir’s upcoming show in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., “Reaching for the Light,” will be held at 4 p.m. Second Presbyterian Church downtown. 

“We’ve got four major pieces focused on humankind’s struggle for justice, equality and freedom,” said founding director Robert Taylor. 

The concert’s principal piece about MLK Jr., “His Light Still Shines,” was written by American composer Moses Hogan. 

“Even though [MLK Jr’s] work was for the black community and their rights, the big picture of what he was saying applies to more than one specific segment of society,” Taylor said. 

“His Light Still Shines” will be accompanied by three other works.

One of those works will feature the Gregg Middle School choir from Summerville, called “Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo,” a piece centered around Nujeen Mustafa, a kurdish teenage girl with cerebral palsy who fled to Germany to escape persecution in the Syrian civil war, Taylor told City Paper.

Another work features movements from “Considering Matthew Shepard” a choral piece about a gay student in Wyoming whose brutal murder in 1998 led to national and international focus on hate crime legislation.

The last work featured, “Nolemtiba” by Latvian composer/pianist Peteris Plakidis, which can be translated to the word “destiny,” tells the story of the Baltic nations freeing themselves from Soviet oppression, Taylor said.

“I’ve always been drawn to how the Baltic nations sang themselves to freedom,” he said of the region’s musical identity. 

“This is what art should be doing,” he said. “We want to entertain people and move people, but we also want to make a difference in society. I think telling these stories in veneration of someone like MLK Jr. and venerating what Mustafa has done or the impact that Matthew Shepard’s death had on the world — this is what we need to do.”

Tickets for the concert can be purchased online.

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