Review: PostClassical Ensemble in music by William Levi Dawson, Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Posted on: March 21, 2022

“On Friday night, … Duke Ellington School of the Arts played host to PostClassical Ensemble’s ‘Hope in the Night’ program, the conclusion of the D.C.-based orchestra’s ‘Rediscovery and Renewal of Black Classical Music’ series,” writes Michael Andor Brodeur in Sunday’s (3/20) Washington Post. “Friday’s program also served as an evening-length cram session on composer William Levi Dawson (1899-1990) … an exquisitely talented composer whose voice fills a conspicuous silence in the story of modern American music…. The evening also featured [a] talk with [Black tenor] George Shirley…. PCE Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez and his 58 players [performed Dawson’s] ‘Negro Work Song,’ as well as the D.C. premiere of his overlooked 1934 landmark, ‘Negro Folk Symphony.’ … The evening concluded with … Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s ‘La nuit des tropics,’ … which maxed out the DESA stage capacity at 86 … a fitting homage to the full work’s bombastic 1860 performance in Havana, for which Gottschalk assembled nearly 900 players and singers. But it also felt like an appropriate reminder of why we come to music we’ve never heard in the first place. It helps us reconstruct the past, sure; but ideally, it helps us fine-tune the future.”