Harry McDoggus
December 31, 2021
PostClassical Ensemble Returns in Flurry of Activity: In-person Concerts, Films, Radio Broadcasts  The Rediscovery and Renewal of Black Classical Music is the Centerpiece

PostClassical Ensemble (PCE), for 18 years one of the few true mavericks among American chamber orchestras, has announced its plans for the 2021-2022 season. The Ensemble's Executive Director Michelle Rathbun notes "We at PostClassical Ensemble are thrilled to be presenting live concerts once again! We're eager not only to welcome our faithful audiences back to the concert hall but to invite new communities to discover the thoughtful, cross-disciplinary programs that have been so elegantly designed by our co-founders, Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Executive Producer Joseph Horowitz."

PCE's season consists of four concerts, presented in November 2021 and in January, February and March of 2022. Venues for the concerts have been chosen for their relevance to the programs themselves and to the audiences PCE wishes to reach. Three of the season's offerings are devoted to the group's new initiative, The Rediscovery and Renewal of Black Classical Music, which coincides with the publication of Mr. Horowitz’s new book Dvorak’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music by Norton in November 2021.

The remaining concert, Mahler Fourth: A Wicked New Look, is the premiere of a bold re-imagining of Mahler's Fourth Symphony which spotlights the many disparate influences found in the original - jazz-like riffs on itself, constant variation, folk and dance tunes, and inner conflicts and contradictions expressing Mahler's own struggles as an assimilated Jew in the Hapsburg capital that was both artistically liberating and anti-Semitic. In the midst of this musical ferment will be a take on the symphony's whirling scherzo, which becomes a concertino for bass trombone, featuring master trombonist David Taylor, recognized for decades as the pre-eminent virtuoso on his instrument.
Mahler Fourth: A Wicked New Look
Wednesday, 19 January 2022 at 7:30 p.m.
Terrace Theater, The Kennedy Center
2700 F St NW
Washington, DC 20566
David Taylor, bass trombone
Madeleine Murnick, soprano
PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez
Produced by Joseph Horowitz
A post-concert discussion will follow the performance.

As for the primary focus of PCE's 2021-2022 season, Executive Producer Joseph Horowitz explains that "The Rediscovery and Renewal of Black Classical Music seeks to celebrate consequential composers who have too long been neglected for all their profound contributions to American orchestral music. PCE has long been a national leader in unearthing this buried history. By contextualizing this story – where the music came from, why it disappeared, and what to make of it today – we reflect on our nation’s complex cultural history and gain insight into how to nurture understanding and dialogue."
The Souls of Black Folk: Rediscovering Black Classical Music
In partnership with Howard University and the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts
Sunday, 14 November 2021 at 5:00 p.m.
All Souls Church: 1500 Harvard St NW (@16th), Washington, DC
Elizabeth G. Hill, piano
Melissa Constantin, soprano
Patrick Hamilton, Daks McClettie, Lauren Smith, Lauryn Williams, readers
Prepared by Ricky Ramon and John Woods III
CAAPA Chorale conducted by Music Director Greg Watkins
Chester Burke Jr., pianist
PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez
Jenn White, host
The program highlights Black women composers Florence Price (3 compositions, including a world premiere) and Margaret Bonds (6 compositions, including a world premiere), explores the insights of Langston Hughes and W.E.B. DuBois through texts and unpublished letters, and weaves together an illustration of their continuing legacy in shaping American culture. Featuring pianist Elizabeth Hill and the CAAPA Chorale; narrated by Jenn White. ‍This concert will be recorded and excerpts will be broadcast on NPR's program 1A, hosted by Jenn White, on Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 21.

The Black Virtuoso Tradition
In partnership with Levine Music and THEARC
Saturday, 26 February 2021 at 3:00 p.m.
THEARC Black Box Theater | 1901 Mississippi Ave SE, Washington, DC
Elizabeth G. Hill, piano
Steven Mayer, piano
Melissa Constantin, soprano
A concert of virtuoso piano fireworks drawing on the African-American vernacular. Pianist Elizabeth Hill and noted stride-piano specialist Steve Mayer take audiences on a musical journey playing works of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Antonin Dvorak, Scott Joplin, James P. Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, George Gershwin and Margaret Bonds.

Hope in the Night
In partnership with Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Alumni Association
18 March 2022 at 7:00PM
Duke Ellington School of the Arts
3500 R Street NW
Washington D.C. 20007

‍PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez
PCE celebrates composer William Dawson and features a forgotten masterpiece from this major Black symphonist, as well as the world premiere of his Negro Work Song. At its 1934 premiere by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony received a thunderous ovation and was hailed by some as the highest achievement in American symphonic music. But Dawson never found a publisher, and the music disappeared from view. Louis Moreau Gottschalk was raised on Black Creole music in New Orleans and is the earliest American composer whose music we still hear. His lively and energetic "symphony", Night in the Tropics, featured Cuban percussion and was among the best known orchestral works in 19th century America.

Co-founded by Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz in 2003, PostClassical Ensemble (PCE) challenges and redefines what an orchestra does by radically rethinking the concert experience. That’s why The Washington Post has called the Ensemble “wildly adventurous.” PCE's humanities-infused thematic programming tells stories -- exploring music in its cultural and historical context. It integrates theater, dance, film, and visual art, as well as folk, indigenous, and popular music and instruments. PCE partners with museums and educational institutions, produces films and radio documentaries. PCE prioritizes the story of American music, with special attention to its African-American roots. PCE champions works and composers (e.g. Silvestre Revueltas, Lou Harrison, Bernard Herrmann) deserving greater advocacy for their cultural influence and social significance. PCE explores a contemporary “postclassical” musical landscape that supersedes outdated notions of “classical” versus “popular.” By flexibly expanding and contracting, PCE becomes an adaptable medium for instrumental music, ranging from chamber repertoire to full-orchestra compositions both old and new. It is believed that once such flexibility is achieved, buttressed by a breadth of humanities content, orchestras can continue to flourish as instruments of human expression.

Mr. Horowitz has produced a series of 6 DVDs in collaboration with Naxos, Dvorak's Prophecy, which posits "A New Narrative for America's Classical Music". Four of these DVDs feature PCE: 

Film 1: Dvorak's New World Symphony - A Lens on the American Experience of Race 

Film 4: Aaron Copland, American Populist 

Film 5: Beyond Psycho, The Musical Genius of Bernard Herrmann

Film 6: Lou Harrison and Cultural Fusion

These four films are a perfect expression of PCE's long-standing motto, "More than Music".

Angel Gil-Ordóñez is Music Director of PostClassical Ensemble, Principal Guest Conductor of New York’s Perspectives Ensemble, and Music Director of the Georgetown University Orchestra. In León, Mexico, he serves as lead advisor for Trinitate Philharmonia, modeled on Venezuela’s El Sistema. He regularly conducts at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine and at the Jacobs School of Music (University of Indiana/Bloomington). The former Associate Conductor of Spain’s National Symphony Orchestra, he is the recipient of the Royal Order of Queen Isabella, the country’s highest civilian decoration. To learn more, visit gilordonez.com

PostClassical Ensemble Executive Producer Joseph Horowitz has long been a pioneer in classical music programming. As Executive Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, he received national attention for festivals exploring the folk roots of concert works. He subsequently directed an NEH-funded symphonic consortium, “Music Unwound,” which produced festivals in collaboration with universities. He is the award-winning author of eleven books mainly dealing with the history of classical music in the United States. His new book, Dvorak’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music, links to PCE’s Black Classical Music festival. Both his Classical Music in America: A History (2005) and Artists in Exile (2008) were named best books of the year by The Economist. His blog is artsjournal.com/uq.

* * * * *

Photo of PostClassical Ensemble by
Tom Wolff
Photos of Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz by Behrouz Jamali

The Mahler 4 concert is an external rental presented in coordination with the Kennedy Center
Campus Rentals Office and is not produced by the Kennedy Center.


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