Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is America’s most iconic poet, a beacon of American democracy both at home and abroad. His years as a Civil War nurse were spent in DC, where he worked at the Patent Office Building.

PostClassical Ensemble celebrates the Whitman Bicentennial with three programs of music, readings, film – and a classic 1944 radio drama in its world premiere concert performance. These events also include an ambitious new work for baritone and piano, and contributions by six distinguished speakers.

“Whitman believed that what was most valuable, indeed most poetic, about the United States was its openness to diversity and equality.

“He presented himself as a god-like ‘bard’ who would give voice both to his nation and to the entire cosmos.

“He called the United States a ‘teeming nation of nations’ and conspicuously included immigrants and refugees in his many catalogues of American variety.

“He described the greatest, most American poets as those who were ‘hungry for equals.’ His devotion to equality extended to his self-identification as ‘the poet of the woman as much as the man.’

“He summarized: ‘America is not for special types, for the caste, but for the great mass of people— . . . vast, surging, hopeful .’”

–Brian Yothers, Frances Spatz Leighton Endowed Distinguished Professor of English, UTEP


I Sing the Body Electoral: A Walt Whitman Celebration
Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, at the Washington National Cathedral, 7:30 pm
Bethlehem Chapel — limited seating

On the eve of the mid-term elections, a program of song, readings, and reflection. Baritone William Sharp sings Whitman settings by Kurt Weill, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Curt Cacioppo (world premiere)

Whitman on Film
Saturday, May 18, 2018 at the National Gallery of Art at 2 pm (free admission)

Manhatta (1921) directed by Paul Strand
Street Scene (1995) — Kurt Weill’s opera (with a Whitman love duet) as directed by Francesca Zambello in Berlin.
Commentary by Neil Richardson, Peggy Parsons, and Joe Horowitz

Beyond Psycho: the Musical Genius of Bernard Herrmann
Saturday, June 1, 2019, at the Nat Washington National Cathedral at 7:30 pm

Featuring the world premiere concert performance of a forgotten masterpiece: “Whitman” — a 1944 radio play scored by Bernard Herrmann and produced by the legendary genius of radio drama: Norman Corwin. Also on the program: music from Herrmann’s most famous film score, for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.


Lorenzo Candelaria (Nov. 5), Dean of the Arts at SUNY Purchase, is one of America’s most prominent Mexican-American arts administrators

Peyman Allahvirdizadeh (Nov. 5, May 18, June 1) has recently published his first book of poems. An immigrant, he became a Whitman devotee while living in Iran.

Steven Herrmann (June 1) is a Jungian psychologist who has written a trilogy of books on Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville; he postulates that all three were “shaman-poets.”

Martin Murray (Nov. 5, May 18, June 1) is founder of Washington Friends of Whitman and has undertaken important research on Whitman’s Civil War experiences in DC.

Neil Richardson (Nov. 5, May 18, June 1) an authority on Whitman’s style of meditation, is the creator of Walt Whitman Integral  https://waltwhitmanmeditation.com/.

Kim Roberts (May 18, June 1) the founder of Beltway Quarterly, is most recently the author of A Literary Guide to Washington D. C.

Brian Yothers (Nov. 5) is Frances Spatz Leighton Endowed Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Texas/El Paso. As one of the nation’s foremost Melville scholars, he is a pre-eminent authority on 19th century American literature.