Watch The Langston Hughes Project by Ron McCurdy Trailer

In celebration of Black History Month, Pacific Symphony is presenting Langston Hughes’ Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. PST. Featured artists include narrator Terrence A. Carson, Ron McCurdy Quartet and Pacific Symphony led by Maestro Carl St.Clair. The event will take place at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Thank you to our Board Members Maurice Murray and Scharrell Jackson for their support. This concert is generously sponsored by the Irvine Barclay Theatre, J.P.Morgan Chase & Co., Lendistry, Inc., PIMCO, PepsiCo, MarshMcLennan and Board Members Susan & Sam Anderson and Ginny Davies. 

Born on Feb. 1, 1901 in Joplin, Missouri, Langston Hughes was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance. His first poem was published in 1921 and his first book was published in 1926. In addition to his creative work, he was also an activist. To learn more about his story and legacy, please click here.

One of the early innovators of jazz poetry, Hughes started writing the 12-part poem in segments at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island in 1960. This would be Hughes’ homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. Did you know that one of the original dedicatees was Louis Armstrong?

The evening’s program will consist of 12 different moods: Cultural Exchange, Ride Red Ride, Shade of Pigmeat, Ode To Dinah, Blues in Stereo, Horn of Plenty, Gospel Cha Cha, Is It True, Ask Your Mama, Bird in Orbit, Jazztet Muted and Show Fare, Please. The multimedia presentation features a jazz quartet, spoken-word and images from the Harlem Renaissance. The orchestral version of The Langston Hughes Project premiered in 2008 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and rapper and television actor, Ice-T.

Watch the trailer:

To learn more about The Langston Hughes Project, please click here.

Pacific Symphony Celebrates Black History Month with the Langston Hughes Project

©Roger Thomas 2015 – / Ice-T and Ron McCurdy – the Langston Hughes Project Ask Your Mama; 12 Moods for Jazz / London Jazz Festival, Barbican Hall, Saturday 21st November 2015 / Ron McCurdy – trumpet, spoken word / Ice-T – spoken word / Yuma Sung – piano / Mark Hodgson – bass / Mark Mondesir – drums

 “…a raging, inspired revival that would make Langston Hughes proud… as relevant today as it was in 1960.” —The Guardian

Pacific Symphony will present and produce Ron McCurdy’s Langston Hughes Project at Irvine Barclay Theatre on Feb. 27. Carl St.Clair leads a multimedia concert performance of Hughes’ kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite titled, Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz. This is Hughes’ homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. It is a 12-part epic 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 drumming—a creative masterwork left unperformed at his death.

This fully orchestrated work is enhanced through engaging videography. The multimedia concert performance links the words and music of Hughes’ poetry to topical images of Ask Your Mama’s people, places, events and to the visual artists Langston Hughes admired and/or collaborated with most closely over the course of his career. These include the African-inspired mural designs and 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 Barthé, 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, which bridges the Harlem renaissance, the post-World War II beat writers’ coffeehouse jazz poetry world and the looming Black Arts performance explosion of the 1960s.

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.“

— Langston Hughes

More information or Tickets.