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Image for Langston Hughes’ Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz
Langston Hughes’ Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz
Sunday, February 27, 2022 at 7pm
About the Show



Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022 at 7pm
Irvine Barclay Theatre

Dave Spear:
Terrence A. Carson
: Narrator
Ron McCurdy Quartet
Pacific Symphony
Dave Spear and Mike Barry: Orchestrators


A Multimedia Performance
in Celebration of Black History Month

Featuring the Ron McCurdy Quartet:
Ron McCurdy: Trumpet and Spoken Word
Yuma Sung: Piano
Max Kraus: Acoustic Bass
Reggie Quinerly: Drums and Percussion

This performance will include one 15-minute intermission.

This performance is generously sponsored by:


Susan & Sam Anderson  
Ginny Davies   


Mood 1: Cultural Exchange   


Mood 2: Ride, Red, Ride


Mood 3: Shade of Pigmeat
In A Spiritual Place          

Ron McCurdy

Mood 4: Ode to Dinah

Mood 5: Blues in Stereo

Mood 6: Horn of Plenty
Meet Me at Congo Square

Ron McCurdy



Mood 7 Gospel Cha Cha                           

Mood 8: Is It True

Mood 9: Ask Your Mama             

Mood 10: Bird in Orbit
Langston’s Lament

Ron McCurdy                                                                      

Mood 11: Jazztet Muted
Hesitation Blues by W. C. Handy

Mood 12: Show Fare, Please
Show Fare by Eli Brueggemann

Program Notes: Cultural Exchange

In Negro sections of the South where doors have no resistance to violence, danger always whispers harshly.  Klansmen cavort, and havoc may come at any time. Negroes often live either by the river or the railroad, and for most there is not much chance of going anywhere else. Yet always one of them has been away and has come home. The door has opened to admit something strange and foreign, yet tied by destiny to a regional past nourished by a way of life in common—in this case, collard greens.           

A State Department visitor from Africa comes, wishing to meet Negroes. He is baffled by the "two sides to every question" way of looking at things in the South. Although he finds that in the American social supermarket blacks for sale range from intellectuals to entertainers, to the African all cellophane signs point to ideas of change—in an IBM land that pays more attention to Moscow than to Mississippi. What—wonders the African—is really happening in the shadow of world events, past and present—and of world problems, old and new—to an America that seems to understand so little about its black citizens? 

Program Notes: Ride, Red, Ride

In the restless Caribbean there are the same shadows as in Mississippi, where, according to Time, Leontyne comes in the back door. Yet some persons in high places in Washington consider it subversive for ordinary people to be concerned with problems such as back doors anywhere—even suspecting those citizens of color who legitimately use the ballot in the North to elect representatives to front doors. But in spite of all, some Negroes occasionally do manage—for a moment—to get a brief ride in somebody's American chariot.

Program Notes: Shades of Pigmeat

Oppression by any other name is just about the same, casts a long shadow, adds a dash of bitters to each song, makes of almost every answer a question, and of men of every race or religion questioners.

Program Notes: Ode to Dinah

Hard times endure from slavery to freedom—to Harlem where most of the money spent goes downtown. Only a little comes back in the form of relief checks, which leaves next to nothing for show fare for children who must live in a hurry in order to live at all. Yet in a milieu where so many untoward things happen, one cannot afford to take to heart too deeply the hazards. Remember Harriet Tubman? One of the run-away slaves in her band was so frightened crossing from Buffalo into Canada that on the very last lap of his journey he hid under the seat of the train and refused to glance out the window. Harriet said: "You old fool! Even on your way to freedom, you might at least look at Niagara Falls."

Program Notes: Blues in Stereo

Sometimes you are lucky, or at least you can dream lucky--even if you wake up cold in hand. But maybe with a new antenna you will get a clearer picture.

Program Notes: Horn of Plenty

Certainly, there are some who make money—and others who folks think make money. It takes money to buy gas to commute to the suburbs and keep one's lawns sheared like one's white neighbors who wonder how on earth a Negro got a lawn mower in the face of so many ways of keeping him from getting a lawn.

Program Notes: Gospel Cha-Cha

Those who have no lawns to mow seek gods who come in various spiritual and physical guises and to whom one prays in various rhythms in various lands in various tongues.

Program Notes: Is It True?

It seems as if everything is annotated one way or another, but the subtler nuances remain to be captured. However, the atom bomb may solve all this—since it would end the end results of love's own annotation. Meanwhile, although the going is rough, triumph over difficulties at least brings subjective glory. Everybody thinks the Negroes have the most fun, but, of course, secretly hopes they do not—although curious to find out if they do.

Program Notes: Ask Your Mama

In spite of a shortage of funds for the movies and the frequent rude intrusions of those concerned with hoarding hard metals, collective coins for music-making and grass for dreams to graze on still keep men, mules, donkeys and black students alive.

Program Notes: Bird in Orbit

Those who contribute most to the joy of living and the stretching of the social elastic are not stymied by foolish questions, but keep right on drawing from the well of the past buckets of water in which to catch stars. In their pockets are layovers for meddlers—although somewhere grandma lost her apron.


Program Notes: Jazztet Muted

Because grandma lost her apron with all the answers in her pocket (perhaps consumed by fire) certain grand- and great-grandsons play music burning like dry ice against the ear.  Forcing cries of succor from its own unheard completion—not resolved by Charlie Parker—can we look to monk or Monk?  Or let it rest with Eric Dolphy?

Program Notes: Show Fare, Please

If the answers were on tickets in long strips like those that come from slots inside the cashier's booth at the movies, and if I had the money for a ticket—like the man who owns all tickets, all booths and all movies and who pays the ticket seller who in turn charges me—would I, with answer in my hand, become one of the three—the man, the ticket seller, me?  Show fare, mama, please.....

About Pacific Symphony

Pacific Symphony, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair for the last 32 years, has been the resident orchestra of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall since 2006. Currently in its 43rd season, the Symphony is the largest orchestra formed in the U.S. in the last 50 years and is recognized as an outstanding ensemble making strides on both the national and international scene, as well as in its own community of Orange County. In April 2018, Pacific Symphony made its debut at Carnegie Hall as one of two orchestras invited to perform during a yearlong celebration of composer Philip Glass’ 80th birthday, and the following month the orchestra toured China. The orchestra made its national PBS debut in June 2018 on Great Performances with Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” conducted by St.Clair. Presenting more than 100 concerts and events a year and a rich array of education and community engagement programs, the Symphony reaches more than 300,000 residents—from school children to senior citizens.

The Symphony offers repertoire ranging from the great orchestral masterworks to music from today’s most prominent composers. Ten seasons ago, the Symphony launched the highly successful opera initiative, “Symphonic Voices,” which continues in April 2020 with Verdi’s Otello. It also offers a popular Pops season, enhanced by state-of-the-art video and sound, led by Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman. Each Symphony season also includes Café Ludwig, a chamber music series; an educational Family Musical Mornings series; and Sunday Matinées, an orchestral matinée series offering rich explorations of selected works led by St.Clair.

Founded in 1978 as a collaboration between California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), and North Orange County community leaders led by Marcy Mulville, the Symphony performed its first concerts at Fullerton’s Plummer Auditorium as the Pacific Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of then-CSUF orchestra conductor Keith Clark. Two seasons later, the Symphony expanded its size and changed its name to Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Then in 1981-82, the orchestra moved to Knott’s Berry Farm for one year. The subsequent four seasons, led by Clark, took place at Santa Ana High School auditorium where the Symphony also made its first six acclaimed recordings. In September 1986, the Symphony moved to the new Orange County Performing Arts Center, and from 1987-2016, the orchestra additionally presented a Summer Festival at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. In 2006, the Symphony moved into the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, with striking architecture by Cesar Pelli and acoustics by Russell Johnson—and in 2008, inaugurated the hall’s critically acclaimed 4,322-pipe William J. Gillespie Concert Organ. The orchestra embarked on its first European tour in 2006, performing in nine cities in three countries.

Recordings commissioned and performed by the Symphony include the release of William Bolcom’s Songs of Lorca and Prometheus in 2015-16, Richard Danielpour’s Toward a Season of Peace and Philip Glass’ The Passion of Ramakrishna in 2013-14; and Michael Daugherty’s Mount Rushmore and The Gospel According to Sister Aimee in 2012-13. In 2014-15, Elliot Goldenthal released a recording of his Symphony in G-sharp Minor, written for and performed by the Symphony. The Symphony has also commissioned and recorded An American Requiem by Danielpour and Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio by Goldenthal featuring Yo-Yo Ma. Other recordings have included collaborations with such composers as Lukas Foss and Toru Takemitsu. Other leading composers commissioned by the Symphony include Paul Chihara, Daniel Catán, James Newton Howard, William Kraft, Ana Lara, Tobias Picker, Christopher Theofanidis, Frank Ticheli, John Wineglass and Chen Yi.

In both 2005 and 2010, the Symphony received the prestigious ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. Also in 2010, a study by the League of American Orchestras, “Fearless Journeys,” included the Symphony as one of the country’s five most innovative orchestras. The Symphony’s award-winning education and community engagement programs benefit from the vision of St.Clair and are designed to integrate the orchestra and its music into the community in ways that stimulate all ages. The Symphony’s Class Act program has been honored as one of nine exemplary orchestra education programs by the National Endowment for the Arts and the League of American Orchestras. The list of instrumental training initiatives includes Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble and Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings. The Symphony also spreads the joy of music through arts-X-press, Class Act, Heartstrings, OC Can You Play With Us?, Santa Ana Strings, Strings for Generations and Symphony in the Cities.

Pacific Symphony Board and Donors

Click here to view Pacific Symphony Board & Donors

Pacific Symphony Administrative Staff

Click here to view Pacific Symphony Administrative Staff

Pacific Symphony Orchestra Roster

Click here to view Pacific Symphony Orchestra Roster