Will you stand with us in leveraging the power of music to motivate, inspire, teach, inform—and bring people together? Will you help us to lift up brilliant composers who have too long been neglected? Will you help reclaim the role that Black classical music traditions played in our distinctively American musical heritage?
"Because of our current conversation about race, we now observe a seemingly desperate effort to make up for lost time, to present Black faces in the concert hall. I think that’s only fair. But if it’s going to become a permanent new way of thinking, there has to be new understanding. We have been left unprepared for the current cultural moment.
The Black Classical Music festival being planned in Washington, D. C., by PostClassical Ensemble in collaboration with Howard University will be a landmark event in this process of excavating a part of the African-American cultural legacy heretofore barely even glimpsed. I am eager to be a partner in this vital activity.”
The first Black tenor to sing lead roles at the Metropolitan Opera
In keeping with PostClassical Ensemble’s mission, our 2021 – 2022 season opens with “The Souls of Black Folk: Rediscovering Black Classical Music ” in November 2021 at All Souls Church in Washington, DC. The program highlights Black women composers Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, explores the insights of Langston Hughes and W.E.B. DuBois through letters and texts, and weaves together an illustration of their continuing legacy in shaping American culture.
This opening performance is part of a series of concerts focused on Black classical music that will showcase consequential composers who have too long been neglected for all their profound contributions to American orchestral music.
Today America is working through reconciling its founding ideals with a history that all too often falls short of achieving them. A nascent effort by Black composers to foster an American school of composition based in the idioms of African Americans fell victim to institutional racism and a new wave of Modernism that shunned the vernacular. Such Black composers as Nathaniel Dett, William Dawson, Florence Price, William Grant Still, and Margaret Bonds comprise a lineage that was driven underground for decades.
PostClassical Ensemble has long been a national leader in unearthing this achievement. By contextualizing and exploring this history in detail, we can elevate the founders of Black classical music, recall their words and experiences, and learn about the times in which they lived. PCE hopes audiences will reflect on our nation’s complex cultural history and gain insight into how to nurture understanding, engagement, and dialogue.
We are honored to present this season in collaboration with our Leadership Council, and artistic faculty and student partners at Howard University, the Levine School, as well as the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts and the Millennium Arts Salon.
We invite you to join us at one of the following Underwriter or Benefactor levels:
Funds will be used to provide free or subsidized tickets to students and low-income families, cover student transportation costs to concerts, musician fees, master classes, educational content, internships, venue support, as well as general concert production.
Please contact PCE Executive Director Michelle Rathbun at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information or discuss how you can support Black Classical Music.
The Black Classical Music Leadership Council is a committee of educators, artists, scholars, philanthropists, civic and business leaders who have donated their time and talent to make this project possible.
All Souls Church
All Souls Church Unitarian is celebrating its 200th Anniversary in November 2021. Located at the intersection of 16th and Harvard Streets, the church straddles the Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights, and Adams Morgan neighborhoods. The Church was founded by American visionaries—William Ellery Channing, founder of American Unitarianism; and in the DC area, President John Quincy Adams, Vice President John C. Calhoun, and designed by Charles Bulfinch, who is also the architect of the U.S. Capitol. Founding members included slaves, free African Americans, immigrants, laborers, merchants and distinguished local and national leaders—each involved in key issues facing the country—abolition, education, poverty, civil rights, peace, and economic justice.
THEARC Black Box Theater
Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) was built in 2005 as a state-of-the-art facilities located in Washington, DC's Ward 8. THEARC offers the opportunity for families living east of the Anacostia River to receive world class services, including arts education, directly within the community.
Duke Ellington School for the Arts (TBC)
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts was established in 1974 and remains the sole D.C. public high school to offer a dual curriculum encompassing professional arts training and academic enrichment, in preparation for college and careers in the art. Its mission is to nurture and inspire passion for arts and learning in talented students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to develop their artistic skills. We ensure that our students are prepared for post-secondary education and/or careers in the arts by offering an intensive arts-based program. We prepare our students to become productive citizens in our global society through our strong focus on community service.