Dvořák and America Festival at the Clarice Smith Center, February 26-March 1

Friday, February 15, 2013

CONTACT: Sarah Snyder

(301) 405-8151

February 15, 2013 College Park, MD – PostClassical Ensemble (PCE) celebrates the distinctive and influential “American style” of Dvořák with a series of performances at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center as part of their Dvořák and America Festival.

The centerpiece of the Festival is the world premiere of Hiawatha Melodrama during the Dvořák and America performance on March 1 at 8pm at the Center. The piece is co-composed by PCE’s Artistic Director Joseph Horowitz and music historian Michael Beckerman, with orchestrations by PCE Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez, and combines text from Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha with excerpts from Dvorak’s New World Symphony, American Suite, and Violin Sonatina. Based closely on research by Michael Beckerman, the Hiawatha Melodrama both highlights the “American” features of these Dvořák works and suggests what a Dvořák “Hiawatha” Cantata might have sounded like.

Additional Dvořák performances at the Center include American Roots on February 26 at 8pm; Left Bank Quartet’s Dvořák in Search of America on February 27 at 8 pm; and American Suite on March 1 at 7pm.

About Dvořák and America

Antonín Dvořák was a Czech composer during the nineteenth century who spent several years in America as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. According to PCE’s Artistic Director Joseph Horowitz, “The story of Dvořák and America dropped out of our historical consciousness for nearly a century. We’re just recapturing it now. Surely, it is one of the most fascinating and unlikely episodes in the history of American music. Dvořák’s achievement and influence in the United States are simply incalculable. He doubtless played a role in inspiring his Africa -American assistant, Harry Burleigh, to turn “plantation songs” into art songs with piano accompaniment. And of course his New World Symphony and American String Quartet are probably the best-known, best-loved symphonic and chamber works ever composed on American soil.”

PCE’s Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez adds, “The case of Dvořák in America is a miraculous anomaly.  He appropriates indigenous and folk elements of a culture not his own, but which consume and fascinate him: African American spirituals and Native American chants and dances. It is an amazing achievement. And also – in the case of the American Suite – amazingly little known, even to Americans.”

Dvořák and America Festival at the Clarice Smith Center  

American Roots

Tuesday, February 26, 2013. 8PM. FREE

American pianist Benjamin Pasternack presents piano music inspired by African Americans and Native Americans. The program includes Dvořák’s Humoresques in F and G-flat and an excerpt from his American Suite; Busoni’s Indian Diary No. 2; Farwell’s Pawnee Horses and Navajo War Dance No. 2; and Bernstein/Pasternack’s On the Town Dances.

Left Bank Quartet: Dvořák In Search Of America

Wednesday, February 27, 2013. 8PM. FREE

Produced by UMD faculty artist David Salness in association with PostClassical Ensemble, this concert includes readings from Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha and Dvořák’s personal letters from Iowa.

PostClassical Ensemble: American Suite

Friday, March 1, 2013. 7PM. FREE

Pianist Benjamin Pasternack performs Antonín Dvořák’s American Suite in its entirety.  Join a discussion with Pasternack, PostClassical Ensemble’s Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz, and UMD School of Music Assistant Professor of Musicology Dr. Patrick Warfield following the performance.

PostClassical Ensemble: Dvořák and America

Friday, March 1, 2013. 8PM. $35/$10 (Regular/Student)

PostClassical Ensemble Artistic Director Joseph Horowitz has done extensive research into Dvořák and his body of work, resulting in a book, an educational project about America in Dvořák’s time and this program. Musical works include String Serenade, American Suite (orchestral version) and the world premiere of Hiawatha Melodrama.

About PostClassical Ensemble

PostClassical Ensemble was founded in 2003 as an experimental orchestral laboratory by Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Artistic Director Joseph Horowitz. Its tagline — “More than an Orchestra” — suggests its unique mission. All PCE programming is thematic, cross-disciplinary, and educational.


The American Roots performance is included in Diversity Through Music, an event series sponsored by the UMD Office of Diversity Education and Compliance and the Nyumburu Cultural Center through a grant from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with the cooperation of the Clarice Smith Center.

Left Bank Quartet’s Dvořák in Search of America, PostClassical Ensemble’s American Suite, and PostClassical Ensemble’s Dvořák and America are part of A Festival of Dvořák’s Exploration in America, a series of concerts produced by PostClassical Ensemble in collaboration with the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Learn more about the Clarice Smith Center's donor support.