"Send Out the Call"
Every Spring, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus presents a concert that tackles a somewhat more serious theme than our Holiday concert or June’s Pride concert. One friend teased me about this recently, saying, "Teen suicide, the Holocaust, Marriage Equality... when are you gonna invite me to something fun?"
The answer: This weekend. The BGMC hasn’t given up its artistic mission or sold out; we’re not presenting the Zeigfield Follies. But this Spring Concert combines fun and drama, uplift and poignancy in a way that hits all the notes just right.
Here’s what we’re offering. Composer Ricky Ian Gordon has set a cycle of poems by Langston Hughes to music that document the black gay experience; guest dancers and soloists bring the piece to life as two young men living in Harlem search of love and connection, and discover one another. The piece is thrilling and musically complex; Gordon’s creative skill and daring shine through as never before in selections like "Harlem Night Song," "Joy," "I Dream a World," and "Stars." (Just a side note: "Stars" isn’t based on a Hughes poem. It’s a lovely, and loving, song about Gordon’s own life partner.) (Just another side note - I got that bit wrong. "Stars" does, in fact, set a Hughes poem to music. See the composer’s comment below.)
Here’s a sweet coincidence for you: Two Boston stage compamies, SpeakEasy and the Huntington, have mounted concurrently-running productions of "Clybourne Park" and "A Raisin in the Sun." The plays are linked, though "Clybourne Park" was written a half century later than the acknowledged classic of American theater, "A Raisin in the Sun." What’s fun about this is the fact that the author of "A Raisin in the Sun" took her play’s title from a poem by... you guessed it... Langston Hughes. The poem appeared in Hughes’ book-length cycle of verse "A Dream Deferred." And now, tell me -- have our own dreams of family and individual equality not been long deferred?
This isn’t the BGMC’s first experience with Ricky Ian Gordon’s lush, dazzling music. A few years ago we learned another complex song about love and relationships by Gordon, "Love My Sweet Rain." It was a tough piece to master, by oh my... was is ever so gorgeous once we understood and learned to live within its aural tapestry. Similarly, as we’ve grown into this song cycle, we’ve discovered its bounty and it, in turn, has helped us discover more about our own musicianship.