Langston Hughes

Broadway, blues & opera intersect in colorful “Street Scene” at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The brownstone at 346 on an anonymous street on New York’s Lower East Side is the home to seven families of motley ethnicity. “Street Scene,” the opera they inhabit, brings together music of the Old World and New to express their joys, hopes, passion, fears, and desperation. The 1946 collaboration of composer Kurt Weill, poet Langston Hughes, and playwright Elmer Rice opens Friday at 8 p.m. in the Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the Bowling Green State University campus. A matinee performance will be presented Sunday at 3 p.m. Advance tickets are $15; all tickets are $20 the day of the performance. Call 419-372-8171, go online at bgsu.edu/arts, or visit the box office in the Wolfe Center to purchase tickets. “Street Scene,” said Kevin Bylsma, coordinator of opera at BGSU, “is a great amalgamation of operetta, opera and musical theater that tells a poignant story that resonates as much today as it did in 1946.” The tale of immigrants tossed together in a strange, sometimes hostile place had such resonance that guest director Nicholas Wuehrmann considered setting this version in contemporary times. There’s the “universality of the themes of…


David Bixler’s Hughes Project started as a gift from his mother

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News David Bixler can thank his mother for inspiring his Hughes Project. His mother, a retired English teacher, sent him a copy of Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son.” “Well, son, I’ll tell you,” the poem begins. “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” That poem inspired Bixler. He responded as a jazz saxophonist and composer would: by writing a song. From that first piece has grown into The Hughes Project, seven pieces with more to come for a nine-piece ensemble. All based on poems written by the man of letters considered a leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. Last week Bixler gave a lecture about the project, accompanying his remarks with performances of two pieces from the project. Later that night he presented a recital featuring the seven movements he’s completed so far. He’d long been interested in writing music inspired by Hughes that blended a jazz quintet and a string quartet. He finally carved out the time to write the piece last year. He was on leave from his position as director of jazz studies at Bowling Green State University, and his family had relocated back to…