Pacific Symphony presents THE LANGSTON HUGHES PROJECT

Pacific Symphony presents “The Langston Hughes Project,” a multimedia concert of the poet’s suite of jazz poems, Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz. It is Hughes’ tribute in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad in the early 1960s. It is an epic twelve-part poem that Hughes scored with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie woogie, bebop, progressive jazz, Latin “cha cha”, Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian Calypso and African Percussion – a creative masterpiece that remained unreleased when he died.

“The Langston Hughes Project” takes place Sunday, February 27 at 7 p.m. at the Irvine Barclay Theater. Single tickets start at $25. This innovative program is generously sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co., PIMCO, Lendistry, Irvine Barclay Theatre, Sam and Susan Anderson, PepsiCo, Marsh McLennan and Ginny Davies. For more information or to purchase tickets, please Click here or call (714) 755-5799.

Commenting on his interest in “The Langston Hughes Project”, Music Director Carl St. Clair said, “Dr. Ronald McCurdy and I have served together on the faculty of USC’s Thornton School of Music for more than 20 years. During this time, Ron and I have become trusted friends and colleagues, and it is a great honor to welcome him to Orange County to participate in a performance of his Kaleidoscopic Jazz Suite – his project of Langston Hughes – Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz St.Clair continued, “It’s incredibly creative and connects the words and music of the artists Langston Hughes has admired throughout his career. Ron’s vivid musical imagination recreates a magical moment in our cultural history. I’m proud that this project is part of the Pacific Symphony season.”

Carl St.Clair conducting Pacific Symphony will be joined by narrator Terrence A. Carson and the Ron McCurdy Quartet. The Quartet is made up of Ron McCurdy (trumpet and spoken word), Yuma Sung (piano), Max Kraus (acoustic bass) and Reggie Quinerly (drums and percussion).

Originally, Hughes created “Ask Your Mama” following his appearance as an official at the five-day Newport Jazz Festival in July 1960, where he shared the stage with luminaries such as Louis Armstrong. , Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Dakota Staton. , Oscar Peterson, Otis Spann, Ray Charles and Muddy Waters. The musical score was designed to serve not just as a background but to forge conversation and commentary with the music. Although Hughes originally intended to collaborate with Charles Mingus, and later Randy Weston, on the execution of this masterpiece, it remained only at the planning stage when Langston Hughes died in 1967. His recovery now in words, music and images offers an uplifting experience for audiences everywhere.

Using engaging videography, this concert-performance connects the lyrics and music of Hughes’ poetry with topical footage of the people, places and events of Ask Your Mama and the visual artists Langston Hughes admired and/or or with which he has collaborated the most during his career, notably the African-inspired wall drawings and the cubist geometries of Aaron Douglas, the blues and jazz-inspired collages of Romare Bearden, the macabre grotesques of Meta Warrick Fuller , the rhythmic sculptural figurines, heads, and bas-reliefs of Richmond Barthe, and the color-blocked cityscapes and black history series of Palmer Hayden and Jacob Lawrence. Together, the words, sounds and images recreate a magical moment in cultural history, linking the Harlem renaissance, the jazz poetry world of post-WWII writers’ cafes and the impending performance explosion. of the Black Arts of the 1960s.

The show is brought to life by the extraordinary talents of the Ron McCurdy Quartet. Dr. Ronald C. McCurdy is professor of music at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California (USC) and past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). Prior to his appointment at USC, he served as director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at USC. He is the co-author of a series of vocal jazz improvisations entitled “Approaching the Standards”, published by Warner Bros. Dr. McCurdy is the director of the National Grammy Vocal Jazz Ensemble and combo, and is also the director of the Walt Disney All-American College Band in Anaheim, California.

Dr McCurdy has performed with a host of legendary jazz artists including Wynton Marsalis, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Terence Blanchard, Leslie Uggams, Arturo Sandoval, Diane Schuur, Ramsey Lewis, Mercer Ellington, Dr Billy Taylor, Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton and Diane Reeves. He is a stage performer for the Yamaha International Corporation.

Program and artists subject to change.

Corina C. Butler