Wednesday, May 22, 2013

'How can we engage young singers to champion repertoire of Langston Hughes among others?'

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:  

and here 

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.

Feel free to extract what you wish for your blog.


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