Harry McDoggus
December 31, 2021
PostClassical Ensemble Re-imagines Mahler Guest Artist David Taylor in Bold Arrangement of Symphony No. 4

PostClassical Ensemble (PCE), whose mission - To create singular occasions where the intellect is stirred and the spirit is moved - is borne out every day in the composers, artists, repertoire, creative direction and educational impulse chosen by co-founders Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz, celebrates the new year with a very unusual take on Gustav Mahler. On Wednesday, 19 January at 7:30pm at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, PostClassical Ensemble under the direction of Maestro Gil-Ordóñez will perform arrangements of three works of Mahler, spotlighting the dazzling bass trombone virtuoso David Taylor. The group will play an excerpt from the Funeral March of Mahler's Symphony No. 1; "Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht" from Songs of a Wayfarer; and Symphony No. 4 in its entirety, including the world premiere performance of its second movement, "In gemachlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast", as recast and arranged for bass trombone and chamber ensemble by the group's co-founders. The remaining three movements are also arranged for chamber ensemble, by Klaus Simon.

Turn-of-the-century Vienna was the epicenter of an artistic explosion that was cosmopolitan and irreverent, mixing tradition with folk influences from across the Austro-Hungarian empire. It was here that Mahler penned his Fourth Symphony—not long after his fellow Bohemian Dvorak adapted African American and Indian influences for his New World Symphony.

In a sense, Mahler 4 presages the emergence of jazz: the music riffs on itself throughout, replacing “classical” repetition of themes with constant variation. It feeds upon folk and dance tunes and rollicks with 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.

PostClassical Ensemble premieres a new chamber version of Mahler 4 that spotlights these influences center stage. The symphony’s whirling scherzo becomes a concertino for bass trombone—a showcase for one of the world’s great instrumentalists, David Taylor. In the original work, Mahler wanted this solo to sound odd and other-worldly, if not diabolical, directing the violin to tune up a whole tone and to play roguishly. This style is squarely in Taylor’s sweet spot, so his will be a performance like no other.

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

Gustav Mahler: Funeral March excerpt (from Symphony No. 1)
Arranged for chamber ensemble by Angel Gil-Ordóñez
Gustav Mahler: Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht (from Songs of a Wayfarer)
Arranged for bass trombone and chamber ensemble by Angel Gil-Ordóñez
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4 (1899-1900)
1. Bedachtig, nicht eilen
2. In gemachlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast
(recast by Joseph Horowitz and Angel Gil-Ordóñez as Mahlerei for bass trombone and chamber ensemble)
3. Ruhevoll, poco adagio
4. Sehr behaglich
Arranged for chamber ensemble by Klaus Simon (2007)
A post-concert discussion will follow the performance.
To purchase tickets click here.

The remainder of PCE's season consists of three concerts devoted to the group's new initiative, The Rediscovery and Renewal of Black Classical Music, which coincides with Norton's recent publication of Mr. Horowitz’s new book Dvorak’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music. 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 first of the three concerts in the series, The Souls of Black Folk: Rediscovering Black Classical Music, was presented in November 2021. The second in the series, The Black Virtuoso Tradition, will take place at THEARC Theater on Saturday, 26 February at 3pm, and the third and final concert in the series, Hope in the Night, will be presented on Friday, 18 March at 7pm at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, all in Washington D.C. More information.

Award-winning bass trombonist David Taylor started his playing career as a member of Leopold Stokowski's American Symphony Orchestra, and with appearances with the New York Philharmonic under Pierre Boulez. His exceptional talent and polyglot interests made it possible for him to conduct a simultaneous career in jazz and rock. He has recorded numerous solo CDs, and has recorded with groups ranging from Duke Ellington to The Rolling Stones. He has been a member of the bands of Gil Evans, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Jaco Pastorius, Charles Mingus, JJ Johnson, Joe Henderson, George Russell, Michele Camilo, Bob Mintzer, Dave Matthews, Dave Grusin, Randy Brecker, the Words Within Music Trio, The Art of the Duo, and B3+. David Taylor teaches on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College, and NYU.

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

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 Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. He has appeared as guest conductor with many ensembles both here and abroad, including American Composers Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Munich Philharmonic, Solistes de Berne, and the major symphony orchestras in his native Spain, among others. 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.

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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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