Ask Your Mama, With Jessye Norman and Nnenna Freelon, Plays the Apollo March 23
By Michael Gioia
The Apollo Theater and Manhattan School of Music present the New York return of Ask Your Mama, described as "a 90-minute sonic tapestry of music, film and spoken word by Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman," March 23 at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater.
Based on Langston Hughes' "Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz," the 8 PM evening features the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Sinfonia conducted by George Manahan, who also conducted the sold-out world premiere at Carnegie Hall in 2009 and a subsequent performance at the Hollywood Bowl.
Ask Your Mama features original cast members, including Jessye Norman and Nnenna Freelon, as well as Roger Guenveur Smith and singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello.
Here's how the production is described: "Langston Hughes conceived his 1961 epic 'Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz' as an interdisciplinary creation, including in the margins suggestions for types of music including hot jazz, German lieder, cha-cha, patriotic songs, post-bop and Middle Eastern, as well as specific songs like 'When the Saints Go Marching In' and 'Battle Hymn of the Republic,' all of which he meant to accompany his words. Karpman's composition brings these imaginings to life, combining Hughes' language with sounds that come together to evoke the turbulent flux and flow of American cultural life, making the 50-year old text startlingly current."
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