The Music of Langston Hughes

Three By Langston – SATB


Product Description

Three By Langston

SATB Contemporary Choral

This choral suite by composer Ricky Ian Gordon features three short poems by the great American poet Langston Hughes. The three contrasting movements offer a creative treatment of text through highly imaginative choral writing. Songs include: Joy, Luck, New Moon.

  •  Contemporary Choral
  • SATB

A Little About Ricky Ian Gordon

Ricky Ian Gordon, a celebrated musical virtuoso, entered the world on May 15, 1956, in the charming town of Oceanside, New York. Raised on the picturesque shores of Long Island, he embarked on a transformative journey that would shape the landscape of contemporary vocal music.

His insatiable appetite for artistic expression led him to Carnegie Mellon University, where he delved deep into the realms of piano, composition, and acting. It was here that the seeds of his prodigious talent took root, laying the foundation for a remarkable career ahead.

As the vibrant lights of New York City beckoned, Ricky Ian Gordon answered the call and made it his artistic home. In the heart of this bustling metropolis, he quickly rose to prominence as a leading luminary in the world of vocal music. His compositions are a testament to his artistic prowess, spanning an eclectic range that encompasses the ethereal beauty of art songs, the grandeur of opera, and the emotional resonance of musical theater.

What sets Mr. Gordon apart is not only his extraordinary talent as a composer but also his ability to evoke profound emotions through his work. His music has the power to touch the human soul, transcending boundaries and resonating with audiences across the globe.

Throughout his illustrious career, Ricky Ian Gordon’s creations have been brought to life by a constellation of internationally renowned singers. The list reads like a who’s who of the vocal elite, including luminaries such as the incomparable Renee Fleming, the ethereal Dawn Upshaw, the powerful Nathan Gunn, the legendary Judy Collins, the enchanting Kelli O’Hara, the captivating Audra MacDonald, the versatile Kristin Chenoweth, the spellbinding Nicole Cabell, the late, great Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, the iconic Frederica Von Stade, the rising star Nadine Sierra, the incomparable Andrea Marcovicci, the resplendent Harolyn Blackwell, and the timeless Betty Buckley, among a multitude of other stellar talents.

With a career that spans decades, Ricky Ian Gordon continues to enchant and inspire with his unparalleled compositions. His music remains a testament to the enduring power of art to touch hearts, lift spirits, and transcend the boundaries of time and place. As we celebrate his remarkable journey, we eagerly await the melodies and harmonies yet to come from this musical maestro.

A Little About Langston Hughes & His Poems Joy, Luck & New Moon


I went to look for Joy,
Slim, dancing Joy,
Gay, laughing Joy,
Bright-eyed Joy,—
And I found her
Driving the butcher’s cart
In the arms of the butcher boy!
Such company, such company,
As keeps this young nymph, Joy!

Langston Hughes, a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, is celebrated for his profound contributions to American literature and his impactful exploration of the African American experience. Hughes was not only a gifted poet but also a playwright, novelist, and social activist. His works continue to resonate with readers worldwide, offering insights into the struggles and triumphs of the African American community during the early 20th century. In this essay, we will delve into Hughes’ life and examine three of his poems: “Joy,” “Luck,” and “New Moon.”

Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. Growing up, he faced discrimination and racial prejudice, which later became central themes in his literary works. Hughes sought solace in writing from a young age and eventually attended Columbia University. However, he left the university due to the lack of diversity in the curriculum and embarked on a journey to explore the world.

“Joy” is a poem that encapsulates the essence of happiness and resilience despite adversity. Hughes presents the idea that joy is not dependent on material wealth but rather a state of mind. He writes, “I went down to the river, I set down on the bank. I tried to think but couldn’t, So I jumped in and sank.” The river symbolizes life’s challenges, and the act of jumping in represents facing those challenges head-on. Hughes suggests that joy can be found even in the midst of struggles if one possesses the right perspective.

In “Luck,” Hughes examines the concept of luck as it relates to race and socioeconomic status. He acknowledges the disparities in opportunities between African Americans and white Americans but emphasizes the importance of determination and self-belief. Hughes writes, “Sometimes a crumb falls from the tables of joy, sometimes a bone is flung.” Here, he acknowledges that luck may not always be in one’s favor, but individuals have the agency to make the best of their circumstances. This poem underscores Hughes’ belief in the power of resilience and self-determination.

“New Moon” delves into the theme of hope and new beginnings. Hughes describes the new moon as “thin as a curve,” symbolizing the potential for growth and change. He writes, “Now is the night one crow Keeps off his sleep. Love, love, my love.” This stanza suggests that love and hope can keep one awake and motivated, even in the darkest of times. Hughes encourages his readers to embrace the possibilities of each new day and find solace in the idea that the moon will eventually wax and bring new light.

In conclusion, Langston Hughes remains a literary icon whose works continue to resonate with readers for their exploration of African American culture, resilience, and the pursuit of joy in the face of adversity. Through poems like “Joy,” “Luck,” and “New Moon,” Hughes offers valuable insights into the human experience, reminding us of the enduring power of hope and determination. His contributions to American literature serve as a testament to the enduring spirit of the African American community and the universal themes of human struggle and triumph.

Three By Langston Song List

  • Joy
  • Luck
  • New Moon

Product Details

  •  #HL 08711340
  •  9780634041020
  •  073999089516
  •  6.75″
  •  10.5″
  •  32 Pages

Additional information

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The Music of Langston Hughes

Inspired by his messages of justice, freedom, and the hope that a brighter future lies ahead, notable composers and arrangers have beautifully coupled Langston Hughes' passionate words with equally captivating music.

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This Music of Langston Hughes website has been developed by the Fred Bock Publishing Group.

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