National Philharmonic Announces 2019-20 Season

You don't need to wait any longer. The National Philharmonic today announced its new 2019-20 season, led by Maestro Piotr Gajewski. On April 18, 2020 it will showcase the eagerly-anticipated world premiere of Henry’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. This performance of Henry's sweeping 21st century rhapsody for voice and orchestra is entirely underwritten by fans of new music and individual donors to the National Philharmonic's Prufrock Fund.

Adapted from the poem by T.S. Eliot, it was composed especially for Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes. It is part of a concert program called “Music+Prose,” which will explore the connection between music and the written word. Also on the program are Samuel Barber’s Overture to the School for Scandal, Alistair Coleman’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, and Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway, featuring Zuill Bailey, three-time Grammy Award-winning cellist.

Prufrock embodies a 21st century musical language that makes use of eclecticism while suggesting the familiar symphonic American vernacular of 20th century composers like Howard Hanson, Roy Harris and Samuel Barber. The text, first published in 1915, was an entirely new kind of poetry that thrust Eliot onto the modernist stage. To underscore the tension in Eliot’s verse, the composer uses a hybrid voice that synthesizes classical and vernacular styles. Each theme and leitmotif use the melodic and rhythmic contours of Eliot’s stream of consciousness narrative to dictate mood and melodic character. Notable among them is the “Prufrock motif” that heralds the poem’s famous opening line, "Let us go then, you and I." These rich musical fragments are then woven into a meaningful—and dramatic—aural experience.

Extended techniques and semi-aleatoric passages, especially under the expert baton of Maestro Gajewski, help amplify the emotional content. As Prufrock muses upon "the mermaids singing, each to each," for example, Henry combines artificial harmonic glissandi in the cello part—which produces the sound of a flock of seagulls—with an ocean drum, played ad lib, and tubular bells. Woodwinds, harp, and strings support the ensemble. The result is a remarkable simulation of the sounds of the seashore: ocean waves swell and crash to the cawing of seagulls as the mournful toll of a bell buoy heralds the open sea and Prufrock concludes, "I do not think that they will sing to me."

The ending is calibrated to Talamantes’ vocal genius. Brass, percussion, and celesta enter, intensifying the rich orchestral palette. The high note is sustained over seven measures of a dance-like scherzo in 7/8 meter as singer and orchestra build to a magnificent forte fortissimo climax. With the vocal line soaring above the din, the Prufrock motif returns to mark the closing line, "Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”

About the National Philharmonic
The National Philharmonic is known for performances the Washington Post characterizes as “powerful,” “impeccable” and “thrilling.” In July 2003, the National Chamber Orchestra and Masterworks Chorus merged to create the National Philharmonic, an ensemble with more than 50 years of combined history, bringing high caliber musical performances to the Washington area. As the Music Center at Strathmore’s orchestra-in-residence, the National Philharmonic showcases world-renowned guest artists and time-honored symphonic masterpieces conducted by Maestro Piotr Gajewski, with additional conducting by Associate Conductor Victoria Gau, and choral masterworks under National Philharmonic Chorale Artistic Director Stan Engebretson.

About Henry Dehlinger
Hailed by Gramophone Magazine for his “vibrantly colorful palette” and “exquisite piano-playing,” Henry Dehlinger is active as a composer of contemporary vocal, choral and orchestral music notable for its stylistic diversity, soaring melodies and complex harmonic idioms. His compositions express a modern and tonal American aesthetic that synthesizes classical and vernacular elements. He pens strong, unique themes and motifs, drawing from a palette of diverse musical styles and genres that reflect the text he is setting and emotional responses he means to elicit. He then weaves these rich musical fragments into meaningful—and often dramatic—aural experiences. Audiophile Audition characterizes his output as “stunningly superb” and "formidably essential listening!"

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2019-2020 Premieres

  • Oct 27
    Washington Master Chorale: Three Choral Songs on James Joyce (World Premiere),  Washington
  • Apr 18
    National Philharmonic at Strathmore: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (World Premiere),  North Bethesda
  • May 8
    Santa Clara Chorale: Kohelet - A Cantata in Five Movements (World Premiere),  Santa Clara

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Premiering in 2020

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock 

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: A Rhapsody for
Voice and Orchestra

Music by Henry Dehlinger
Words by T.S. Eliot

A sweeping 21st century rhapsody for voice and orchestra, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was composed especially for Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes. Adapted from the famous poem by T. S. Eliot, it uses the melodic and rhythmic contours of Eliot's stream-of-consciousness narrative to dictate mood and melodic character.

World Premiere: April 18, 2020
The National Philharmonic at Strathmore
Piotr Gajewski, Music Director & Conductor

Soparno Solo and Orchestra


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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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Premiering in 2020

KOHELET: A Cantata in Five Movements 

Kohelet: A Cantata in Five Movements

Music by Henry Dehlinger

Inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and co-commissioned by the Washington Master Chorale and the Santa Clara Chorale, Henry's Kohelet gives you lush, modal melodies, energetic meters, and colorful harmonic textures with Hebrew text drawn from the Book of Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs.

World Premiere: May 8, 2020
Santa Clara Chorale and Santa Clara University Choirs, Scot Hanna-Weir, Artistic Director
Thomas Colohan, Conducting

SATB, Bass-Baritone Solo, Soprano Solo, Brass, Organ, Harp and Percussion.


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I. Hakol Havel (All is Vanity)

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