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May 24 Tue

Langston Hughes’ Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz

Sunday, February 27 2022

Irvine Barclay Theatre

Concert Timings:
February 27, 2022, 7:00 pm

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Due to a recent change, guest conductor David Spear will be leading Pacific Symphony at tonight’s performance.

The Langston Hughes Project is a multimedia concert performance of Langston 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. Ask Your Mama is a twelve-part epic poem which 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.

Utilizing engaging videography, this 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.

Underwriting opportunities are available, with VIP tickets and private post-concert reception. Learn more.

Audience Advisory:
Proof of full vaccination, or negative COVID test within 72 hours of performance date, is required from all audience members older than age twelve for entrance into Irvine Barclay Theatre. Masks are required at all times inside the Barclay. Learn more.



Download Program Notes


A Multimedia Performance
in Celebration of Black History Month


Featuring the Ron McCurdy Quartet:
Ron McCurdy, Trumpet and Spoken Word
Yuma Sung, piano
Max Kraus, acoustic bass
Reggie Quinerly, drums and percussion