NEW YORK (PIX11) – Two legendary creators, one in the field of literature and the other in music, have joined forces – decades after their deaths.
Poet Langston Hughes and composer Ludwig van Beethoven lived in different time periods, but in a meeting of the minds, their works will take the stage at Lincoln Center in honor of Black History Month in a show called “Langston and Beethoven: Black and Proud.”
The artists were separated by 130 years but linked by genius. Hughes was a musical historian whose verses rang like lyrics. And Beethoven was a lover of poetry, which often inspired his compositions.
The show’s creator, radio host Terrance McKnight, said the idea came to him while reading a passage in one of his Langston Hughes poetry volumes.
“‘I’m gonna quit my frowning, put my troubles on the shelf,’” McKnight said, quoting Hughes. “And I said, Beethoven, said that.”
And from that epiphany, McKnight set out to blend the two into one love that could transcend disciplines.
Tenor Chauncey Packer said he did not need convincing on the project. For Packer, one of the most powerful pairings of Beethoven’s music to Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”
“To sing the words is quite an honor,” he said.
Mixed in with the works of Beethoven will also be the music of David Baker and George Gershwin, with members of the New York Philharmonic and piano soloist Kyle Walker.
The performance will be held Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. To make the arts more accessible, the cost of tickets on the website is described as “choose what you pay.” For more information about the performance, visit Lincolncenter.org.
McKnight is also launching a new WQXR podcast beginning Feb. 16 called “Every Voice with Terrance McKnight,” which spotlights Black heroic figures in modern American operas.