Philadelphia Soprano Karen Slack Joins Opera Philadelphia and the Wharton-Wesley Faith Ensemble for a Concert Centered on the Poetry of Langston Hughes

Monday, February 5, 2024

Pictured Above: Soprano Karen Slack.  Photo Credit: Kia Caldwell. 

To Sit and Dream takes place on Sunday, March 17, at 3:00 p.m. 

To sit and dream, to sit and read / To sit and learn about the world…
All you who are dreamers, too / Help me to make our world anew.
-from “To Sit and Dream” by Langston Hughes



Philadelphia, PA – Langston Hughes (1901–1967) made a significant impact on the Harlem Renaissance as a poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright. On Sunday, March 17, at 3:00 p.m., Opera Philadelphia, in partnership with Wharton-Wesley Faith Ensemble and Philadelphia soprano Karen Slack, will present a program of music by Black composers centered on four choral settings of Hughes’ poetry.

To Sit and Dream” takes place at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church, 750 South Broad Street in Philadelphia. The 90-minute concert is conducted by Opera Philadelphia’s Elizabeth Braden and Theodore Thomas, Jr., Director of the Wharton-Wesley Faith Ensemble and Minister of Music at Tindley Temple, and includes compositions by Roland Carter, Christopher H. Harris, Undine Smith MooreRosephanye Powell, Florence Price, Michael Reid, André J. Thomas, and Nolan J. Williams, Jr. Tickets are now available at a “pay what you decide” price at

Pictured Above: Langston Hughes. Photo Credit: Contributed. 

Born in Joplin, Missouri, Langston Hughes was the descendant of enslaved African American women and white slave owners in Kentucky. He attended high school in Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote his first poetry, short stories, and dramatic plays. After a short time in New York, he spent the early 1920s traveling through West Africa and Europe, living in Paris and England. Hughes returned to the United States in 1924 and to Harlem after graduating in 1929 from Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Hughes derived great inspiration from the everyday scenes and sounds of his surroundings. He was especially inspired by jazz and blues, spending hours in the nightclubs of Harlem and Washington, D.C., listening and writing. “I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on Seventh Street,” he said of his poetry. The poet’s relationship to music stretches far beyond the rhythms and images of his poems: he also wrote musicals, operas, and cantatas, and he collaborated with composers like William Grant Still, Margaret Bonds, Kurt Weill, and Jan Meyerowitz, and jazz musicians like Nina Simone.

“To Sit and Dream”
Part of Sounds of America: Price and Bonds
Sunday, March 17, 2024, at 3:00 pm
Tindley Temple United Methodist Church
750-62 S. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19146
Runtime is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission
Tickets available at

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