PCE’s recent CD release, Dvorak and America, has just been named Album of the Week by New York’s Classical Music Radio Station, WQXR and Minnesota Public Radio!
ABOUT THIS RECORDING…
At the center of this ambitious recording is the premiere of a work for actor and orchestra called Hiawatha Melodrama. It was conceived and assembled by the author and music entrepreneur Joseph Horowitz, with contributions from NYU musicologist Michael Beckerman. The piece consists of the narration of a condensed version of Longfellow’s 1855 poem “The Song of Hiawatha” flavored with a score drawn largely from Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony. The idea is to draw links between a poem that had been hugely popular when Dvorak arrived in America, and the composer’s Symphony, which captured some of the soulfulness of black spirituals. Baritone Kevin Deas is the fiery and affecting narrator here.
The recording also features examples of Dvorak’s American-influenced compositions such as the Violin Sonatina in G, his Humoresques, Op. 101 for piano, his American Suite, Op. 98, plus three works by American composer and Native American music scholar Arthur Farwell. The fine Benjamin Pasternack is the soloist on the piano works.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING…
“This compendium of music and words provides a genuinely interesting and difficult-to-describe musical experience that provides considerable insight into the ways in which America influenced Dvořák and the way the great Czech composer returned the favor.” – Mark Estren, infodad.com
An excerpt from the Hiawatha Melodrama:
The centrepiece of this programme is the first ever recording of the Hiawatha Melodrama, a concert work for narrator and orchestra designed to show the kinship between Dvořák’s New World Symphony and Longfellow’s poem The Song of Hiawatha, which Dvořák said had inspired him in the symphony. It takes music from the symphony, as well as passages from the American Suite and Violin Sonatina, and fuses them with the poem, which is recited by a bass-baritone. Also included is music by Arthur Farwell, who was influenced by Dvořák, and was a proponent of Native American music. This recording thus celebrates the crosscurrent of influences between the Czech composer and American music and culture.
In the 1890s, when Wagnerism was at its height, Wagner’s American disciple Anton Seidl (1850-1898) would lead concerts fourteen times a week at Coney Island. He mainly conducted Wagner. The concerts, at the seaside Brighton Beach Music Pavilion (capacity 3,000), included children’s programs and the Seidl Society children’s chorus. Seidl himself composed a work for the children, “Good Night,” the manuscript of which resides at the Seidl Archives at Columbia University.
“Good Night” received its first performance since 1898 in February, 2014, as part of “Scenes from Childhood,” a concert presented by PostClassical Ensemble at DC’s Dumbarton Church. The chorus was Washington National Cathedral Choir of Boys and Girls (Michael McCarthy, conductor), conducted on this occasion by PCE Music Director Angel Gil-Ordonez.
The story of the Seidl Society is one of the strangest and most stirring in the history of classical music in America. It was a singular Brooklyn women’s club, founded by Laura Langford. In summer, the Society presented Seidl and his orchestra at Brighton Beach. In winter, the Society’s Seidl concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music were more numerous than those of the New York Philharmonic, also conducted by Seidl, across the river. Propagating Wagner as a spiritual therapy, the Society hosted working women and African-American orphans, presented lectures on social and spiritual betterment, reserved special railroad cars so unescorted women could attend the Brighton Beach concerts; its goal — aborted by Seidl’s death — was a Brooklyn Bayreuth.
Seidl had aspirations to compose, and was working on a Hiawatha opera when he died. Though he produced numerous transcriptions for orchestra, he left only a single composition of note: “Good Night,” composed and premiered in 1895. I discovered the score when researching my book Wagner Nights: An American History at Columbia University’s Seidl Archive. (I’ve also written about Seidl and Langford in Moral Fire: Musical Portraits from America’s Fin-de-Siecle). The text, a poem by Edna Dean Proctor, reads:
Good-night! Good-night! The morn will light
The east before the dawn,
And stars arise to gem the skies
When these have westward gone.
Good-night! And sweet be thy repose
Through all their shining way,
Till darkness goes, and bird and rose,
With rapture greet the day, –
“Good Night” was last performed on May 2, 1898 — the Seidl Society’s memorial concert for Anton Seidl. Emil Fischer, a much-loved bass in his final American performance, sang Wotan’s Farwell. The program also included the Dream Music from Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, Liszt’s Les preludes and Concerto pathetique (arranged for piano and orchestra), and, to close, Siegfried’s Funeral Music, for which the audience was asked to stand. Langford rose to explain that, as Fischer was sailing for Europe that very day, Wotan’s Farewell would be repositioned near the beginning of the evening. This short speech effectively ended Laura Langford’s public career. A Seidl monument at Brighton Beach was advocated by the Eagle; none was erected. The Seidl Society ceased to exist.
PostClassical’s music director, Angel Gil-Ordóñez, was invited to participate in the Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House and brought members of the Georgetown University Orchestra with him to perform.
PCE Executive Director, Joe Horowitz, has just published a blog entry in Arts Journal online, in which he discusses PostClassical Ensemble’s recent Mexican Revolution festival, whose attention focused on Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas.
Writer Joan Acocella, dance and book critic for The New Yorker, has written an article which is running in the current issue of The New Yorker magazine. The article is entitled “Country Strong: Manuel de Falla and the struggle to define Spanish dance;” click here to read the entire article.
Dear Music Lover,
The thing is I’m no heiress. I haven’t married a hedge fund manager… and I spend more time writing about macroeconomics for The Daily Reckoning than I do making investments. I’m just 31 years old.
I hope you don’t think me crass, but I’d like to show you something personal. It is money… my money… at least it’s mine for the next few minutes.
Here’s what it looks like…
It’s my annual Christmas bonus. Now, I know what you’re thinking. And I agree with you… it’s not much. (Especially after I’ve paid out my taxes and other deductions.)
But let me ask you this: you could still do something pretty nice with $646.45… couldn’t you?
Because that’s what I hope to do too — “something nice.” I’m about to take my Christmas bonus — every penny of it —and sign it over to PostClassical Ensemble.
Now let me tell you why I’m doing it…
I have served on the Board here at PostClassical since 2010, I reverse-commute to D.C. from Baltimore for meetings and to spend whole weekends at the National Gallery of Art… Dumbarton Church… Strathmore… or Clarice Smith to attend EVERY event that PCE puts on.
I love what they’re doing just that much. Plus, there’s more to do in 2014!
Why Give? 5 Reasons
- PostClassical’s 10th Anniversary season — We need to celebrate our growth and expand further
- Mexican Revolution Festival — Cementing the ties connecting two great nations with the music of Revueltas and the film Redes… with fabulous songstress Eugenia León and other surprise guests
- Britten@100 — the PCE Way — with Ben Capps on cello — Having heard Joe’s newest discovery play at board member Liz Cullen’s house on the Potomac, right across from George’s Mt. Vernon, I say: we’ve got to record this promising talent on his cello named Duchess!
- Uniting the Two Cultural Hotbeds: Baltimore and D.C. — We’re looking to bring every PCE show to a new city — Baltimore — and expand our vision for inclusive programming… working with schools like Peabody and Baltimore School for the Arts. This will take more funds, but I hope you agree it’s well worth it to create the next generation of PostClassical fans and performers.
- Our Partnership with Duke Ellington School of the Arts — Last year, I heard our conductor Angel lead these talented young students in a challenging program including Dvorák’s New World Symphony and was blown away by the results… and I look forward to more in the coming years!
And I’ll let you in on a little secret… if you have not given recently to PCE and you give over $500, you will receive an immediate invitation from the Ambassador of Mexico to our 2014 Mexican Revolution Gala on May 8th at the Mexican Cultural Institute. It’s our first-ever gala event… and I know you’d enjoy meeting the Ensemble, hearing them play and enjoying the Tempranillo in the company of our other esteemed PCE supporters and friends. We’ve got an impressive ten years to celebrate!
Okay, there’s one more little reason I’m hoping you’ll join me and give.
See, I have another check coming to me this year too. Possibly a big one, in the $8,000 range. This one’s for my share of my company’s profits in 2013.
And I promised conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez that I would sign that entire check over to PostClassical too… but if and ONLY IF you and your fellow donors and friends of the Ensemble can come up with 15 more donation checks, also filled out for at least $500 each.
In other words, if you and 14 friends each donate $500 to the group… I’ll sign over my entire other bonus check too.
It’s like “matching” on steroids. And I’m happy to do it.
By joining me, you’ll be helping too: To support the group. To spread the music. And to help guarantee another exceptional ten years.
I hope you’ll agree to join me, with whatever amount you can give.
I’m not the wealthiest philanthropist, but this is so important that I’m giving at least this much, guaranteed…
And quite possibly, quite a bit more.
And remember, if you give at least $500, you’ll get personally invited to our first-ever gala by the Mexican Ambassador.
To donate, please go to our website at postclassical.com. Or call Mary Marron: 301-651-9794 to use a credit card. Checks can be sent to: PCE, 5104 44th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20016
On behalf PostClassical Ensemble and all the performers, thank you in advance for anything you can give. I hope you’ll come to our gala so I can thank you in person, too.
Either way, let us hear from you soon.
Board Member, PostClassical Ensemble since 2010
P.S. The next time you come to a PostClassical Ensemble concert, be sure to bring a friend too. I hope to hear from you soon! You are the future of PostClassical. You are the future of classical music in America.
Listen in to WETA’s “Front Row Washington” program on Monday, Novermber 11 at 9pm, for a broadcast of a performance, part of Post Classical Ensemble’s multi-week “Interpreting Shostakovich” festival last November, which was awarded the Musical Event of the Year from Radio Liberty/Free Europe. This National Gallery of Art performance by Post Classical Ensemble features two chamber symphonies plus solo piano works played by George Vatchnadze. Recorded November 4, 2012 in the National Gallery of Art’s West Garden Court by John Conway.
Angel Gil-Ordóñez, Music Director
Joseph Horowitz, Artistic Director
George Vatchnadze, pianist
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH: Chamber Symphony for Strings in C Minor, Op. 110 a (Transcribed by Rudolf Barshai from String Quartet No. 8, Op. 110)
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH: Preludes and Fugues for Solo Piano from Op. 87
Prelude in C Major (as recorded by the composer)
Prelude and Fugue in C Major
Prelude and Fugue in G Minor
George Vatchnadze, pianist
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH: Chamber Symphony for Strings in A-flat Major, Op. 118a (Transcribed by Rudolf Barshai from String Quartet no. 10, Op. 118)
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded PostClassical $200,000 in support of three planned festivals
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded PostClassical Ensemble $200,000 in support of three planned festivals: “Mexican Revolution” this Spring, “A Mahler Portrait” in Spring 2015, and a season-long American music festival in 2015-16.
The Mexican festival, which includes a concert, a conference, a gala, and a book club, will be hosted by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, the Mexican Cultural Institute, and Georgetown University. The culminating event, on May 10 at the Clarice Smith Center, will feature the iconic Mexican film “Redes” (1935) with the soundtrack, by Silvestre Revueltas, performed live by a 50-piece orchestra. Concurrently, PostClassical Ensemble will create its third Naxos DVD – “Mexican Revolution,” incorporating “Redes” with a new soundtrack.
The Mahler festival will include concerts, a short play about the marriage of Gustav and Alma Mahler, and a conference at the Austrian Cultural Forum focusing on “Mahler in America,” and “Mahler and Jewishness.”
The American festival will link to the book “Classical Music in America” by PostClassical Ensemble Artistic Director Joseph Horowitz. As composer-in-residence, the Swiss-American composer/saxophonist Daniel Schnyder will compose a commissioned concerto for the pipa virtuoso Min Xiao-fen.
The new grant is the Ensemble’s second three-year $200,000 gift from the Mellon Foundation. The previous grant supported such projects as the Ensemble’s fully staged production of Manuel de Falla’s “El Amor Brujo,” which this March is seen in New York City as part of the New York Flamenco Festival. A forthcoming PostClassical Ensemble Naxos CD – “Dvorak and America,” featuring world premiere recordings of a “Hiawatha Melodrama” and Indianist works by Arthur Farwell – is also Mellon-supported.
In a joint statement, Horowitz and PostClassical Ensemble Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez said:
“This is a challenging moment for American orchestras. Looking to the future, many find themselves faced with a choice between innovation and retrenchment. We founded PostClassical Ensemble a decade ago with a mission to explore fresh repertoire and new performance formats. The generous funding that we enjoy from the Mellon Foundation is crucial to our capacity to put our artistic mission first; it supports risks we could not otherwise afford. Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we have been able to launch festivals of Stravinsky and Shostakovich incorporating theater and film. We’ve been able to collaborate with Georgetown University – our Educational Partner – on new productions of ‘A Soldier’s Tale’ and ‘El Amor Brujo.’ We’ve been able to create and record a “Hiawatha Melodrama” combining Longfellow’s poem with excerpts from three Dvorak works.
“We undertake projects of this kind in the conviction that they can impact both locally and nationally. And in fact most of the programming supported by the Mellon Foundation yields an afterlife outside the DC/Baltimore area. Our ‘Stravinsky Project’ generated a four-hour radio special produced and distributed by WFMT/Chicago. ‘Schubert Uncorked’ and ‘Amor Brujo’ have been adapted and produced in New York City and Seattle. Our scripted presentation ‘Charles Ives: A Life in Music’ has been seen in Seattle, and over the next three seasons will be adapted by four other American orchestras. We feel we can play a role in rethinking how symphonic programming can connect to audiences, universities, and communities.”
This season’s “Mexican Revolution” is a month-long immersion experience. The core participants include the Mexican singer Eugenia Leon, the Revueltas scholar Roberto Kolb, and the Georgetown University historian John Tutino. The “book club” event, at the Mexican Cultural Institute on April 5, will screen Elia Kazan’s film “Viva Zapata” for readers of John Steinbeck’s “Zapata.” The conference, at Georgetown University on April 11, will include presentations on social and cultural aspects of the Mexican Revolution in conjunction with a performance by the Georgetown University Orchestra. The Clarice Smith Center concert on May 10 will include performances by Eugenia Leon and a visual track created by the video artist Peter Bogdanoff.