DOWNEY - "Six A.M.," a poem by St. Matthias High School sophomore Carolina Cormack, was one of four winning poems chosen to be set to music by renowned jazz composer Ron McCurdy at the Huntington Library in San Marino on April 23.McCurdy was performing his work "The Langston Hughes Project: Ask Your Mama, Twelve Moods for Jazz." Cormack read her poem accompanied by McCurdy's jazz quartet on stage at the library before a large audience of students and educators. McCurdy, a professor of music at the Thornton School of Music at USC, was also a member of the panel that chose the poems submitted by high schools in the Los Angeles area. McCurdy will present a written copy of his score of Cormack's poem to her school. In her poem, Cormack, an English 10 Honors student, describes the early morning life of people living in difficult circumstances, including homelessness. Her comment on social inequality and neglect invoke the spirit of Langston Hughes, whose poetry often confronted racial stereotypes and protested injustice. "The Langston Hughes Project" is a multimedia concert performance of Hughes's kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite about the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad in the early 1960s. The concert features images from the Harlem Renaissance, a period in the 1920s and 1930s of African American literary and cultural achievement in which Hughes was an important influence. McCurdy, an author of several books and articles who has performed and presented masterclasses in jazz all over the world, is past president of the International Association for Jazz Education and a consultant for the Grammy Foundation, Walt Disney Company, and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. He is also a performance artist for the Yamaha Corporation.
********** Published: May 1, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 2