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New York Choral Society Presents MOTHER TO SON

The presentation is based on the poem by Langston Hughes.



New York Choral Society Presents MOTHER TO SON

The New York Choral Society, New York's pioneering symphonic chorus that explores unique collaboration and dynamic repertory, presents the fourth installment of their virtual season, Our Voices with the premiere of Undine Smith Moore's Mother to Son, based on the poem by Langston Hughes on April 6. With a continued commitment to spotlight the artists of New York City in unique digital collaborations while theaters remain closed, this short film invites multi-faceted artist and choreographer Francesca Harper and guest mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams to reflect upon the Black American narrative, the challenges and joys of motherhood, the passage of time, and the drive for survival amidst racism.

Udine Smith Moore named this work her proudest accomplishment near the end of her life and Harper's contemporary movement approach juxtaposed by the inspiration of black spirituals and folk music make this collaboration a dynamic narrative of activism, the unwavering strength of a woman, and the resilience to rise above a divided and inequitable experience of self-discovery and awareness.

Langston Hughes wrote extensively during the Harlem Renaissance on the oppression and racism that Black American's face. Mother to Son offers a compelling narrative of an African American mother teaching with intimacy and complexion, the troubles her Black son will face as he ages. The mother figure, represented by dancers Francesca Harper and Hope Clarke at different stages of their lives, warns her son, portrayed by Ricardo Hartley, of life's dangerous and dark staircase in the face of racism, yet she also suggests that they can overcome their obstacles through perseverance and strength. Signature to Harper's work, layered video projections, whispered text, and sketches by artist Alshante Baker join the voice of guest vocalist Zoie Reams to poignantly personify a deep convergence of exaltation and generational pain and suffering through the lens of the Black narrative yesterday and today.

"The beauty for me with this work lies in the message of the love that is delivered through Langston Hughes's poem," explains Harper. Though the piece is connected to the pain and struggles that the African American community faces, there is a message of hope portrayed by a mother encouraging her son to never stop climbing," she continues. "We are honoring African American culture and tradition but also examining the work through our current social and political landscape."

"While Moore's music illuminates the power of Hughes's words, the chorus's voices support a conversation that has many mood shifts," adds Music Director David Hayes. "There is a clear portrait of an archetypal mother's inherent strength and dignity in the face of challenge in this work and is a timely benchmark for many conversations Black mothers have with their sons all across America."

With the full chorus including more than 150 voices, ages 19-90, Mother to Son will include just 40 singers, with other members to be spotlighted in the final upcoming season short; Invitation to Love, May 4, 2021. The company most recently premiered God is Seen in collaboration with choreographer Claudia Schreier, A Carol for All Children in collaboration with artist Brendan Fernandes and Peace unto Zion, in collaboration with artist Joyce McDonald, to explore themes of racial inequality, loss and hope.

All shorts will be released on both https://www.nychoral.org and the company's YouTube page.


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