Composer Jonathan Bailey Holland.

(Photo: Courtesy Jonathan Bailey Holland)
The Colorado Symphony holds its 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2014 Humanitarian Awards and Celebration Concert on Tuesday. The program includes Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and the funeral march from Beethoven’s Third Symphony.

The free concert also features recent works, including “The Party Starter,” a lively 2010 piece by Jonathan Bailey Holland originally commissioned and premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Beneath the soaring strings and blasts from the horn section, there’s a persistent drumbeat -- an unusual element among the works on Tuesday's program.

In a video interview with the Columbia Orchestra, Holland discussed his eclectic musical influences, his target audience and his love of a great beat.   

I’m hoping to speak to a broader audience, not just those who are knowledgeable of classical music but those who just enjoy music and enjoy a wide variety of music. ...

There’s something about turning on the radio and hearing a beat and just not being able to sit still. It’s an element I want to capture in my music.

Holland is an associate professor of composition at Berklee College of Music who’s received commissions from the Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. 

Conductor Joseph Young.

(Photo: Courtesy Joseph Young)
“The Party Starter” will be part of a program that recognizes the 50th anniversary of King’s visit to Denver. King spent a weekend in the Mile High City meeting with community and church leaders in January 1964.

Phoenix Symphony Resident Conductor Joseph Young will lead the orchestra on Tuesday, and several community leaders will receive humanitarian awards.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert & Humanitarian Awards at Boettcher Concert Hall starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Admission is free but requires a ticket, available at the Boettcher Hall box office.