PostClassical Ensemble in The Washington Post

The PostClassical Ensemble‘s new program on the influence of gamelan music in Western classical recently received an excellent review in The Washington Post. PCE is directed and conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez, who is also principal guest conductor of our resident Perspectives Ensemble. (Perspectives Ensemble’s recent program, Falla!, will soon be available from Naxos Records!)

Cultural Fusion: The Gamelan Experience” told the story of gamelan’s introduction to the West at the 1889 Paris Exposition, where it was heard by such composers as Debussy and Ravel, through its influence on modernists such as Lou Harrison, to contemporary composer Bill Alves. The concert included performances by the Indonesian Embassy Balinese and Javanese gamelans and dancers.

Anne Midgette (classical music critic for WaPo) writes, “The context was particularly edifying for the light it shed on Messiaen, who is known as a deeply spiritual composer who worked his Catholicism into his pieces; underlining the echoes of the gamelan in his work suggested a kind of idealization of the purity of this folk instrument as an embodiment of spirituality, an uncomfortable sort of colonialization, were it not so clearly also an act of homage.”

About the revived program of Harrison works (which PCE last performed in 2011), Midgette adds, “the freshness of the resulting timbres in big sounds that sound now all-American…and now like some new language of its own, is worth the investment, and getting to hear it live again was a treat.”

You can read the entire review from January 24 here. You may also see video of PCE performing Lou Harrison’s concerto for violin and percussion at the Indonesian embassy on the PCE website.