Bishop’s to host MLK Day musical celebration

The Bishop’s School of La Jolla is hosting a free concert in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 19 at Sherwood Auditorium in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla. Singer-songwriter Byron Smith and the Spirit Chorale will perform spirituals and gospel selections, including a song commissioned for the school’s centennial celebration, “Here and Beyond.”

“Spiritual music is something that’s uniquely American,” Smith said. “It’s something that’s very infectious and popular. It’s sung all over the world.”

The concert will launch Smith’s participation with students through The Endowed Scholar-in-Residence Program. Made possible by support from an anonymous Bishop’s family, the curriculum strives to inspire students and faculty through interaction with academic leaders in the areas of science, art, the humanities and social science.

“We’re just delighted in the sense that we have professionals coming in to work with the kids,” said Louise Carmon, Bishop’s choral director. “Many of our kids go on to singing into college and beyond. For them, it becomes a passion, something they will have for the rest of their lives.”

During his residency, Smith will lead workshops on gospel and jazz vocal styles, careers in the music industry and judge an “American Idol” style competition.

An advocate for the preservation of spiritual and gospel music, Smith said he is excited about exposing the students to this genre of music. He said the historic events aligning with the event - Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration of the first biracial American president - add to its significance.

“We’re looking forward to having the exchange,” Smith said.

The 2008-2009 Endowed Scholar-in-Residence program, which began last year, will host three educators in honor of the school’s 100th anniversary.

“This year…we’re focusing on the performing arts,” said Ria Custodio, the school’s marketing coordinator.

Award-winning playwright Beth Henley will work with English and drama students, as well as assisting with a production of her play “Crimes of the Heart,” which will be performed Feb. 20 and 21.

Performing arts students will have an opportunity to study under Richard Steinert, artistic director for Ballet Pensacola, in April. He will be choreographing the Spring Performing Dance Group’s production, “Simplicitas, Serenitas, Sinceritas.” Shows are scheduled for April 2, 3 and 4.

Martin Luther King musical celebration

- 7 p.m. Jan. 19

- Sherwood Auditorium in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

- 700 Prospect St., La Jolla

- Free, but tickets are required

- (858) 459-4021, ext. 790