(RAHWAY, NJ) -- In celebration of Black History Month, the Union County Board of County Commissioners and the City of Rahway invite residents to experience the words and music of two cultural legends whose art interweaves across centuries and continents, in a live performance of Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud on Tuesday, January 31 at the Main Stage of the Union County Performing Arts Center, at 1601 Irving Street in Rahway. Showtime is 7:00pm.
Admission to this special Black History Month event is free but reservations are recommended online at ucnj.org/black-history-month.
Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud is a rare chance for Union County audiences to preview a Lincoln Center performance in the intimate environment of the Main Stage, a beautifully restored former vaudeville theater that serves as Union County’s cultural centerpiece. The show will move to Lincoln Center in February.
Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud is the creation of the well-known WQXR radio host and cultural curator Terrance McKnight. He will be joined on stage at the Performing Arts Center by pianist Kyle Walker, oboist David Norville and vocalist Chauncy Packer. The Commissioner Board will also present the annual Chester Holmes Humanitarian award at this event.
“We are very proud to welcome Mr. McKnight back to Union County, to celebrate the beginning of Black History Month 2023 with our community. Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud is an enlightening, enriching experience that reminds us of Union County’s deep connections to the great cultural movements of our past, and informs our understanding of the present,” said Union County Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados.
“Social justice and the arts are two major cornerstones of the Rahway community. As we enter Black History Month, Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud flawlessly combines these elements to offer an insightful reflection of the past, and a reminder of the work we continue to do for a brighter future,” said City of Rahway Mayor Raymond A. Giacobbe.
“Black History Month is a time for rediscovering the literary voices of our nation’s past and refreshing our knowledge of the intricate cultural connections that informed their work. We thank Mr. McKnight for shining a new light on both Langston Hughes and Ludwig van Beethoven,” said Commissioner James E. Baker, Jr.
“Langston Hughes is an important voice in the cultural and social history of the Union County community, having lived in Westfield in the 1930’s,” said Commissioner Dr. Angela Garretson. “Mr. McKnight provides a unique musical perspective on the creative threads that intertwine music and poetry from different eras, and we encourage everyone to come and enjoy this very special presentation.”
“Mr. McKnight provides an enriching experience that brings us closer to the deep cultural significance of Langston Hughes’s work, and it is a real honor to bring him to Union County in celebration of Black History Month,” said Commissioner Rebecca L. Williams.
In Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud, Mr. McKnight pairs the poems of Langston Hughes with music by Ludwig van Beethoven, two commanding talents separated by a hundred years’ time and vastly different worlds. Each found inspiration and the spark of creativity in the universality of the other's art form.
Mr. McKnight regularly curates concerts and talks at Merkin Concert Hall, the Billie Holiday Theatre, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Museum of Modern Art. He is also the creator of A Langston Hughes Song Revival.
This will be Mr. McKnight’s fourth time returning to Union County to present high quality programming for Black History Month. A full orchestra version of Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud will be presented at Lincoln Center in New York City in February.
This program is made possible by funds from the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.