You are listening to PCE’s world-premiere performance of “Armenian Odyssey” by Vache Sharafyan, with cellist Narek Hakhnazarian and PCE led by Angel Gil-Ordonez


This film is a singular consideration of Aaron Copland’s odyssey as the most famous American composer of his generation – in particular, his immersion in the political left in the 1930s, and his “Red scare” ordeal of the 1950s. The film includes Copland’s recollections of addressing a Communist picnic in Minnesota, and a re-enactment of his 1953 interrogation by Senator Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn (with the eminent Edward Gero playing McCarthy. PCE’s Naxos DVD of “The City” (1939), with Copland’s most remarkable film score, is centrally featured. Historians Michael Kazin and Joseph McCartin consider Copland’s fate in the larger context of American populism – a volatile factor that seemingly looms ever larger in our national experience.


A virtual performance of Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Violin and Percussion (1940/1959)
Lou Harrison – the master American composer PCE has championed since 2011 – espoused “world music” before there was a name for it. His profound knowledge of non-Western idioms — in particular, of Indonesian gamelan – made him the master musical practitioner of cultural fusion. His violin concerto may be considered the most memorable ever composed by an American. The solo part is both fabulously virtuosic and fervently expressive. The “orchestra” includes wash tubs, coffee cans, flower pots, and other “junk percussion” Harrison discovered rummaging with his San Francisco colleague John Cage.

Coming in February.


NPR invited us to create a 45-minute radio documentary based on our “More than Music” film Dvorak’s New World Symphony: A Lens on the American Experience of Race for “1A” This PCE program was aired on hundreds of stations, nationwide, via WAMU’s “1A” daily show on December 25, 2020.



“The Best Classical Music Event of 2019

The Washington Post

“Wildly ambitious

-Anne Midgette, The Washington Post


- Alex Ross, The New Yorker

One of the country’s most innovative musical groups.”

- Phillip Kennicott, The Washington Post