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About PCE

Bernard Herrmann was absolutely one of the most original 20th-century composers of any country. I’m very happy that this CD is expanding our sense of Herrmann’s achievement, bringing a little-known score to light . . . What strikes me about this combination of Herrmann pieces is that the emotional range is huge. It’s a very great talent that’s on display here, one that we’re very far from appreciating and celebrating in full.
Alex Ross, music critic and author

our history – Our mission

Co-founded by Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz in 2003, PostClassical Ensemble challenges and redefines what an orchestra does by radically rethinking the concert experience. That’s why The Washington Post has called us “wildly adventurous.”

Our 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.

We partner with museums and educational institutions. We produce films and radio documentaries. We prioritize the story of American music, with special attention to its African-American roots.

We champion works and composers (for instance, Silvestre Revueltas, Lou Harrison, and Bernard Herrmann) deserving greater advocacy for their cultural influence and social significance.

We explore a contemporary “postclassical” musical landscape that supersedes outdated notions of “classical” versus “popular.”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 our conviction once such flexibility is achieved, buttressed by a breadth of humanities content, the orchestras can continue to flourish as an instrument of human expression.

Learn more about PostClassical Ensemble's CD of the music of Bernard Herrmann

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What we do

PostClassical Ensemble regularly partners the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection. We were Ensemble-in-Residence at the Washington National Cathedral from 2017 to 2020. Our Cathedral program Cultural Fusion: The Gamelan Experience was named Best Classical Music Event of 2019 by Washington Classical Review.

PCE’s American Roots Initiative, featuring Resident Artist Kevin Deas, explores little-known chapters in the history of African-American music.

PCE’s recording of the music of Bernard Herrmann (released in 2020 on the Naxos label), and the video Beyond Psycho: The Musical Genius of Bernard Herrmann, include the world premiere recording of the 1944 radio play Whitman and the rarely performed Psycho Narrative for Strings.

"The performances are second to none"

PCE’s recording Dvořák and America (released on Naxos in 2014) demonstrates the composer’s “American” style via a PCE-created “Hiawatha Melodrama” combining music by Dvořák with text from Longfellow’s epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha.” It was named one of the best CDs of the year by Minnesota Public Radio. “This is one of those rare ‘concept’ albums’ where the concept actually works,” wrote David Hurwitz in Classics Today.

PCE’s next recording (to be released by Naxos) will feature world premiere recordings of “Indianist” compositions by Arthur Farwell. Its ignition point, at the Washington National Cathedral, was a week-long Native American Inspirations festival exploring two centuries of music inspired by Native American culture, and bringing to D.C. the South Dakota Symphony’s Lakota Music Project.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, PCE began turning its past programing and recordings into More than Music  documentary films exploring American music in the context of cultural and political history. Our Dvorak film becomes a 45-minute NPR documentary and uur Herrmann film was chosen for NYU’s annual “Music and the Moving Image” film festival.

PCE multi-media immersion experiences have generated Ives, Dvorak, and Revueltas events produced by the New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, and countless other orchestras and universities throughout the U.S.. Our Stravinsky Project fostered a Stravinsky radio series produced by WFMT/Chicago. The PCE-created Hiawatha Melodrama is now widely performed. PCE’s three-week Interpreting Shostakovich festival was named “Musical Event of the Year” for 2012 by Radio Liberty/Free Europe.

“Falla and Flamenco,” performed in Washington, D.C., and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, included the American stage premiere of Manuel de Falla’s El Corregidor y la Molinera. PCE’s production of Falla’s El Amor Brujo has been seen in D.C., and twice in New York City, presented by the New York Flamenco Festival.

PCE made its sold-out Kennedy Center debut in 2005 with “Celebrating Don Quixote,” featuring a commissioned production of Falla’s sublime puppet opera Master Peter’s Puppet Show, along with rarely heard works by Oscar Espla and Roberto Gerhard.

“PostClassical”, PCE’s singular radio series produced by the WWFM Classical Network, comprises two- and three-hour thematic explorations hosted by Bill McGlaughlin, Horowitz, and Gil-Ordóñez.

PCE’s guest artists have notably included duduk master Djivan Gasparyan, pipa virtuoso Min Xiao-fen, flamenco cantaoras Esperanza Fernandez and Carmen Linares, Dakota flutist Bryan Akipa, and Lakota singer Emanuel Black Bear.

Twentieth and twenty-first-century composers whose music PCE has commissioned and/or premiered include Manuel de Falla, Arthur Farwell, Bernard Herrmann, Ana Lara, Mario Lavista, Daniel Schnyder, Vache Sharafyan, David Taylor, and Zhou Long. PCE has frequently collaborated with such artists as pianists Steven Mayer, Benjamin Pasternak, and Alexander Toradze, baritone William Sharp, and bass-baritone Kevin Deas.