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Director’s Corner

  • Quinquagenerians

    The recent launch of the Hirshhorn exhibition Revolutions: Art from the Hirshhorn Collection,1860–1960 is the exhilarating opening salvo of the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebration. By happy coincidence, the coming season is also the 21st Century Consort’s 50th. It occasions time-warp rumination, recognizing that the Consort has been around now since the bicentennial, making it fully one fifth the age of the Republic itself! 

    This April’s program, then, invites temporal reflections: in “Time Cycle,” composer Lukas Foss sets poems that immerse us in experiences of time – also offering a kind of historical catalogue of compositional styles from the 20th century – and Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time” invokes a spiritual region without any time at all, musically (those rhythms!) as much as metaphorically. Both works are from the midcentury period of the HMSG collection’s greatest strengths. Back when we started, those earlier periods provided the staples of the Consort’s repertoire; now we perform almost exclusively very new music, especially emphasizing music by women and composers of color. 

    Such is our plan for the 2024-25 season of 50th celebrations: both retro- and pro-spective. On this program, the “pro”-part is represented by Jessie Montgomery’s “Rhapsodies” interspersed between Time Cycle movements (Foss intended improvisations between movements; rhapsodies come close). 

    Back in 1986, at our respective 10th anniversaries, we introduced a program at the Museum (also including “Time Cycle”): CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR PROGRAM & CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE CONCERT.

    As you probably know by now, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has been celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It happens that the 20th Century Consort is approaching its 50th birthday as well, and most of those years have been spent in residence at this wonderful museum. It’s difficult to imagine a more ideal home for an ensemble devoted to the performance of this century’s music, and you can be sure that the Museum’s collection and special exhibitions have been a constant source of inspiration to our programming and performances.

    Lukas Foss – Time Cycle “We’re Late”
    Jessie Montgomery – Rhapsody #1a
    Lukas Foss – Time Cycle “When the Bells Justle”
    Jessie Montgomery – Rhapsody #1b
    Lukas Foss – Time Cycle “Sechzehnter Januar”
    Jessie Montgomery – Rhapsody #2
    Lukas Foss – Time Cycle “O Mensch, Gib Acht”
    Messiaen – Quartet for the End of Time

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If you didn’t make it to the Consort’s performance last month (or did and want to revisit it), please join us for filmmaker H. Paul Moon‘s fully crafted concert film available now on YouTube. You can watch straight through or select individual works; for the fullest experience, you can send it to your home television and stereo, using Chromecast, a smart TV YouTube app, or a connected laptop/desktop computer. We also warmly encourage you to share this content with friends, and to subscribe to our YouTube channel at See MoreSee Less


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