Drew Peterson, pianist
Josephine Baker
John Edward Hasse, guest curator
Felix Conteras, conga
Ellington Carthan, pianist and narrator
Jeffrey Mumford, guest curator
Annie Jacobs-Perkins, cello
Katerina Burton, soprano
Robin De Jesús, actor
David Strathairn, actor
Kevork Mourad, artist
Derek Goldman, playwright/director
José Sacín, bass baritone (Don Quihote)
Israel Lozano, tenor (Master Peter)
Jennifer Zetlan, soprano (Trujaman)
Ricardo Marlow, Flamenco guitar
Philip Kennicott, guest curator
Hany Hassan FAIA, visuals

Hope in the Night

In partnership with Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the DESA Alumni Association

PCE celebrates composer William Dawson and features a forgotten masterpiece from this major Black symphonist.  At its 1934 premiere, by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony received a thunderous ovation and was hailed by some as the highest achievement in American symphonic music. But Dawson never found a publisher, and the music disappeared from view.

Louis Moreau Gottschalk, born in New Orleans, was raised on Black Creole music – and is the earliest American composer whose music we still hear. His lively and energetic  “symphony” Night in the Tropics, with Cuban percussion, was among the best known orchestral works in 19th Century America.

This is the final concert in PCE’s season-long project, The Rediscovery and Renewal of Black Classical Music, which seeks to elevate consequential composers who have too long been neglected for all their profound contributions to American orchestral music. PCE has long been a national leader in unearthing this buried history. By contextualizing this story– where the music came from, why it disappeared, and what to make of it today– we reflect on our nation’s complex cultural history and gain insight into how to nurture understanding and dialogue.

The project coincides with Joe Horowitz’s book  Dvorak’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music released in November 2021.


READ Joe Horowitz’s Wall Street Journal article on Dawson’s symphony


Hope in the Night

March 18, 2022, 7:00PM Pre concert discussion with George Shirley, 7:30PM Concert

Duke Ellington School of the Arts | The Ellington Theater | 3500 R St NW, Washington, DC 20007

George Shirley, tenor

PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez

Duke Ellington School of the Arts Orchestra and Orchestral Director Isaac Daniel
Duke Ellington School of the Arts Concert Chorale and Choral Conductor Dr. Monique Spells


  • William Dawson: There is a Balm in Gilead
  • William Dawson: Negro Work Song (world concert premiere)
  • William Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony (DC premiere)
  •     The Bond of Africa
  •      Hope in the Night
  •      O, Le' Me Shine, Shine Like a Morning Star!
  • Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Night in the Tropics

Special Thanks to the Leadership Council

  • Terri Allen
    Executive Director
    Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts
  • Dr. Gwynne Brown
    Professor of Musicology
    University of Puget Sound
  • Kevette Burwell
    Duke Ellington School of the Arts Alumni Association
  • Dr. Lorenzo F. Candelaria
    Professor of Musicology
    Vanderbilt University
  • Catherine Chieco, MS, MSW
  • Dr. Mark Clague
    Associate Professor of Musicology
    University of Michigan
  • Eugenia V. Colón, CFRE
    President & CEO
    Colón & Associates, LLC
  • Dr. John Michael Cooper
    Professor of Music
    Southwestern University
  • Christopher Cowan
    Director, U.S. International
    Development Finance Corp.
  • Isaac Daniel
    Assistant Principal
    Duke Ellington School for the Arts
  • Kevin Deas
  • Kehembe V. Eichelberger
    Associate Professor Voice
    Howard University
  • Regan Leslie Ford
    Director, SE Washington, DC, Campus
    Levine Music
  • Dr. Matthew Franke
    Master Instructor
    Howard University
  • Jennifer Hayman
    Director of Music and Arts
    All Souls Church Unitarian
  • Melvin and Juanita Hardy
    Millennium Arts Salon
  • Mary and Philip Kopper
    Advocates for the performing arts
  • Marty Austin Lamar
    Director of Music and Creative Arts
    Metropolitan A.M.E. Church
  • Jocelyn McClure
    Duke Ellington School of the Arts Alumni Association
  • Tony and Buffy Miles
    Advocates for the performing arts
  • Ronald Lee Newman
    Duke Ellington School of the Arts Alumni Association
  • Ricky Ramón
    Professor, Theater
    Howard University
  • George Shirley
    University of Michigan
  • Pamela Simonson
    Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts
  • Jeffery Tribble Jr.
    President and CEO
    Levine Music
  • Greg Watkins
    Music Director
    CAAPA Chorale

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What people are saying

So many thanks for that most inspiring, capacious evening. With PCE’s usual ability to surprise and delight… that symphony was astonishing…


Your leadership and dramatic shaping of the Symphony last night was truly masterful - and so inspiring. I know I’ll never forget this experience. Thank you, Maestro!


I loved the intimacy of the ensemble and the aching beauty of the melody repeating and recurring and turning up where I did not expect it .  And I found the quality of the sound thrilling.

That was my take on the concert --that and the tears that it brought to my eyes, simply to be there, to be present at the creation of something so beautiful..


What a perfect PCE evening, wonderful concert and lovely gathering


Angel, You are so musical! I've played the 4th twice, it was the first Mahler I heard as a kid, and I'm invariably disappointed that conductors don't let it breathe.  U nailed it.


Congratulations again to you and your superb ensemble on a wonderful and provocative performance in the Terrace Theater last evening.  As always, we learned something from this concert and it was fun, too.


Everything about it was sheer delight, including the lively and interesting talk at the end…