From the Shores of Bohemia, ‘Cross the Shining Big Sea Water: The PostClassical Ensemble, “Dvorak in America,” Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, March 1, 2013

On the night of March the first
At the big Clarice Smith Center
The PostClassical Ensemble
Gave us a new “Hiawatha.”

Yes, the entire review is going to go like this. Photo of conductor Angel Gil-Ordonez by Tom Wolff.

Yes, the entire review is going to go like this. Photo of conductor Angel Gil-Ordonez by Tom Wolff.

Based on research by Beckerman
(First name Michael, studies music)
They determined that Dvořák,
Antonin if you’re his buddy,
Had a mighty burning passion
For this poem of Longfellow
(Henry Wadsworth, dontcha reckon)
Depicting the love and wedding
And of course the tribulations
Of th’ eponymous Hiawatha.
With no operatic outlet
(The libretto was a failure)
They say Antonin Dvořák,
Czech composer in America,
Put some intriguing parallels
To the tale of Hiawatha
In his New World Symphony,
No. 9, in dark E minor.
Come now Joseph Horowitz,
PCE’s artistic honcho,
Who had earlier arranged
A “Hiawatha” melodrama
But that one was just nine minutes.
This new one that was premiered
On the night of March the First
At the big Clarice Smith Center
In the hall of Dekelboum
Took a sturdy half an hour
And set many episodes
From “The Song of Hiawatha”
To the music of Dvořák.
Kevin Deas read the poem,
Baritone, with voice of thunder,
While the PCE orchestra
Led by Angel Gil-Ordonez
Played the excerpts so arranged
By bright Horowitz and Beckman,
Cunning users of the music
Of this Antonin Dvořák.
The arrangement was effective,
And at times exhilirating—
It turns out that the last movement
Of the New World Symphony,
So beloved and adored
By the nation that inspired it,
Indeed parallels quite closely
The slaying of Pau-Puk-Keewis
With only just a little
Sleight of hand from the arranger.
And Dvořák’s other music
From his great New World Symphony
Effectively dramatizes
Many tales of Hiawatha,
Mostly the second and third movements
(The first doesn’t get much airtime).
The symphony got some assistance
From other Dvořák pieces,
Notably the Sonatina
For the violin and piano
And the American Suite,
Which was performed with style and gusto
Before the program’s intermission
(Along with the early Serenade;
For strings only it was written).
Here, the two principal lessons
I obtained from Friday’s program:
Though the PCE did well with
Hiawatha’s melodrama,
I’m not sure I really ever
Will desire to re-hear it,
Since it mostly made me want to
Hear the Ninth of Dvořák,
Which I will play on my stereo
When this review has been completed.
Secondly, after I listened
To “The Song of Hiawatha”
Its insistent, catchy meter
Kind of invaded my headspace
And made me think that all my writings
Should be set forth in its image.
That notion’s probably not correct,
But I have ne’ertheless explored it,
And so I present to you
My review of “Hiawatha,”
As developed and performed
By the PostClassical Ensemble
On the night of March the First
In the big Clarice Smith Center.

Other People’s Perspectives: Stephen Brookes


Like all PostClassical Ensemble concerts, this one was preceded by other activities, in this case a bunch of cool concerts I wish I had been able to go to except that I have wedding planning and work and it’s just hard to do. But as always I commend them for providing an immersive experience to those who can take advantage of it. It’s been too long since I heard the “American” quartet live, and it’ll have to be a little longer.

Kevin Deas also did an amazing job singing “Goin’ Home,” the spiritual formed from the melody of the slow movement of the “New World” Symphony. For some reason I didn’t think I could fit that into the “poem” above.

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