Langston Hughes (1902-1967)(Wikipedia identifies this as a 1936 photo by Carl Van Vechten)
Today we present excerpts from messages received from Jim Mastracco:
I'm a member of the Washington Men's Camerata - how can we engage young singers to champion repertoire of Langston Hughes among others?
My thoughts about this, perhaps better stated - what is to become of the male choral repertoire - particularly when the 'instruments of performance' are fewer and farther between?
I came across a recording that featured Sydney Poitier reading poetry of Langston Hughes and others:
(link about it here - http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/04/22/specials/hughes-abused.html -
and went out and got the recording. My admiration for Poitier going back to seeing To Sir With Love as kid, which for sure influenced my interests in becoming a teacher, - aside - I was interested in what came of the men's chorus that was also on the recording. It occurred to me, that it would be interesting to redo - the recording - perhaps as a roadcast, or something with an assortment of actors - to the extent that I would be in a position to do this, as a mechanism, or vehicle to interest younger singers.
Years ago in college, my glee club sang in a massed chorus with Wendell Whalum directing. The Camerata, some years ago (as I may have written) gave a full concert dedicated to Hughes' poetry, so I do have some understanding of the history - and connections, but for sure am by no means a scholar - and your blog is extraordinary. ( I found it purely researching the life of Henry Lewis.)
I taught at an urban arts school for a brief period a few years ago, and I was struck that my rudimentary knowledge of this music (not to mention jazz) was better than young people growing up in and or near the birthplace of Duke Ellington.