New York Choral Society Announces Short Film ‘Mother to Son’ as the Fourth Installment of ‘Our Voices’

By Chris Ruel

The New York Choral Society announced the fourth installment of its season, “Our Voices” with the premiere of Undine Smith Moore’s six-minute short film, “Mother to Son.”

The work is based on Black poet, Langston Hughes’ poem. The Society set the premiere for release on April 6 on both the company’s website and YouTube channel.

“Mother to Son” reflects upon the Black American narrative, the challenges and joys of motherhood, the passage of time, and the drive for survival amidst racism. Multi-faceted artist and Choreographer Francesca Harper and guest mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams join a multi-disciplinary group of artists to tell the story of an African American mother instructing her Black son on the trouble that awaits as he grows older.

Dancers Francesca Harper and Hope Clarke represent the mother figure at different stages of their lives and Ricardo Hartley that of the son. Harper’s work includes video projections, whispered text, and sketches by artist Alshante Baker, joined by the voice of mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams personify the intersection of exaltation and generational pain and suffering through the lens of the Black narrative yesterday and today.

“The beauty for me with this work lies in the message of the love that is delivered through Langston Hughes’s poem,” explained Harper in a statement released by the Society. “Though the piece is connected to the pain and struggles that the African American community faces, there is a message of hope portrayed by a mother encouraging her son to never stop climbing,” she continued. “We are honoring African American culture and tradition but also examining the work through our current social and political landscape.”

With the full chorus including over 150 voices, ages 19-90, “Mother to Son” will include 40 singers, with other members to be spotlighted in the season’s final short; “Invitation to Love,” on May 4.