Past Performances
Harlem Renaissance Celebration

In cooperation with Coppin State University, Maryland Opera presented Taylor Boykins and James Harp performing a musical interlude for the opening of Coppin State University’s Harlem Renaissance Celebration. The performance was held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, November 9, 2018, at The James Weldon Johnson Auditorium, Coppin State University, 2500 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. 

Three Dreams Portrait

A collection of three works and put to music in the 1950’s by Bond with lyrics from Langston Hughes’s collection The Dream Keepers and Other Poems:  “Minstrel Man,” “Dream Variation,” and “I, Too.” 

A Negro Speaks of Rivers

Hughes first major poem, penned during the Harlem Renaissance, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” was written in 1920 and published 1921 in Crisis magazine, a publication of the NAACP. It was later published in 1926 in Hughes poetry collection, The Weary Blues. Hughes dedicated the poem to W.E.B. Du Bois, editor of Crisis. 

 

In Hughes’s lyric poem, a black man of the early twentieth century tells the reader that he has inherited a collective consciousness from his forebears in Asia, Africa, and North America. In his mind’s eye, he sees not only the suffering endured by blacks over the centuries, but also their triumph over oppression.

 

Bonds published the song, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” in 1942. It was premiered by Etta Moten, the singer for whom Gershwin originally composed the role of Bess in Porgy and Bess. Bonds hoped it would be premiered by Marian Anderson, who declined because she did not like its “jazzy augmented chords.”

Margaret Bonds and Langston Hughes Collaboration

Hughes first major poem, penned during the Harlem Renaissance, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” was written in 1920 and published 1921 in Crisis magazine, a publication of the NAACP. It was later published in 1926 in Hughes poetry collection, The Weary Blues. Hughes dedicated the poem to W.E.B. Du Bois, editor of Crisis. 

 

In Hughes’s lyric poem, a black man of the early twentieth century tells the reader that he has inherited a collective consciousness from his forebears in Asia, Africa, and North America. In his mind’s eye, he sees not only the suffering endured by blacks over the centuries, but also their triumph over oppression.

 

Bonds published the song, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” in 1942. It was premiered by Etta Moten, the singer for whom Gershwin originally composed the role of Bess in Porgy and Bess. Bonds hoped it would be premiered by Marian Anderson, who declined because she did not like its “jazzy augmented chords.”

Performers
James Harp | Stage & Music Director
Taylor Boykins

Taylor Boykins - performing Langston Hughes poetry set to music by Margaret Bonds, including the song cycle “Three Dreams Portrait” and “A Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Dubbing herself “little but mighty,” mezzo soprano Taylor Boykins doesn’t sell herself short when tackling the tall orders of the opera stage.

Boykins earned the Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, where she was a protégé of opera luminary Denyce Graves. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Oakland University as a student of contralto Nadine Washington. Boykins is a native of Michigan.

 

Boykins made her Kennedy Center debut in 2014 as Mrs. Roché in Tony Small’s eco-conscious musical, RUKA. Later that year, she returned to the Kennedy Center as Alexis in the world premiere of Tony Small’s operetta Qadar, with Denyce Graves as artistic director.

 

In fall of 2016, she made her debut as alto soloist in Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, with one of Baltimore’s newest chamber orchestras, Symphony Number One. She had a taste of contemporary opera, performing in the world premiere of Frances Pollock’s opera STINNEY in 2015. In 2014, she sang the role of Soeur Mathilde in Dialogues des Carmelites, produced by the Peabody Opera Theatre at the Modell Lyric Opera House in Baltimore.

 

Recently, Taylor finished her second season with Maryland Opera Inc.’s outreach program performing in The Life of Marian Anderson and was a finalist for the 2018 Chicago Oratorio Award.

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