MINNEAPOLIS, MN - The University of Minnesota will host “Tapestry of Dreams,” the 30th anniversary production of its Martin Luther King Jr. Concert, from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011, at the university’s Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2128 Fourth St. S., Minneapolis. Tapestry of Dreams will honor King and the late Reginald Buckner, founder of concert. The event will feature The Steeles, a family soul and gospel group based in the Twin Cities.
The program will also feature music by the a cappella group 4Given; a multi-media presentation, “Jazz Moods for Dreamers,” adapted from Langston Hughes' jazz poetry masterwork "Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz" and featuring John Wright, Morse-Amoco Distinguished Teaching Professor of Afro-American and African Studies and English at the University of Minnesota; community reflections on King; and a welcome from university President Robert Bruininks.
Jazz Moods for Dreamers is a two-mood excerpt [Mood 1, “Cultural Exchange,” and Mood 10, “Bird in Orbit,”] that includes specific allusions to King and which has been specially designed for the 2011 concert as a tribute also to Buckner, at whose memorial concert in 1989 they were originally performed.
Wright originated the Langston Hughes Project, a performance ensemble of professional scholars and musicians, in the early 1990s through the university's African American and African Studies and Jazz Studies programs, in collaboration with the Archie Givens Sr. Collection of African American Literature and Life. The project creates, for combined performance and educational workshop purposes, a multimedia concert production of Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, which Hughes wrote in the early 1960s but was unable to bring to the stage before his death in 1967. Ask Your Mama is a nearly 800-line homage in verse and music to the struggle for human freedom at home and abroad during the era of the Civil Rights and African Independence movements of the 1950s and 60s.
Hughes scored his kaleidoscopic praise poem to the freedom struggle with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie-woogie, bebop, progressive jazz, Latin cha-cha, Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso and African drumming. The Langston Hughes Project has expanded Hughes’s original staging concept to include a third, visual dimension of digitized still and live action videographic images that revisit the poem’s people, places and events and at the same time incorporate the photography, painting, sculpture and graphic designs of African American visual artists – like Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks and Roy De Carava – with whom Hughes had collaborative or personal ties during the course of his long career.
When the university's Martin Luther King Jr. Concert began nearly 30 years ago, it was the only tribute of its kind in Minnesota. Buckner, a U of M School of Music professor and an accomplished performer and composer, founded the concert and began the tradition of celebrating the life and accomplishments of King through the performing arts. After professor Buckner’s death in 1989, the university continued to honor his memory and artistic genius by carrying on the inspiring legacy of this annual program. The concert is now a joint program of the university’s Office for Equity and Diversity and the School of Music.