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

*Per venue guidelines, proof of vaccination (card or photo of card) or proof of negative COVID test within 3 days.

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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