In D.C. Dream Day, our favorite people tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the District.


Angel Gil-Ordóñez is the conductor of the PostClassical Ensemble. (Paul Emerson/Paul Emerson)

After more than a decade rotating through various music halls in D.C., PostClassical Ensemble found an unlikely permanent home in 2017: Washington National Cathedral. “[It’s] an extraordinary, beautiful place, but it’s not an auditorium, so there are acoustical challenges,” says ensemble co-founder Angel Gil-Ordóñez, 61. The vast space is so echoey, it can make fast passages sound muddy, Gil-Ordóñez says. His solution? Move the stage to the middle of the nave, and seat the audience on three sides, so that no one is very far from the musicians. “One of the wonderful things about conducting is that you get to be immersed in music. I want to give the audience that experience, too,” he says. A resident of D.C.’s Chevy Chase neighborhood, Gil-Ordóñez so loves being bathed in sound, he won’t be taking time off on his dream day.

My dream day would be a Saturday in spring, because isn’t it just the most beautiful time of the year? I would start with coffee with my wife, Adriana, at Politics and Prose. It’s a very informational and familiar atmosphere, and they have wonderful coffee and croissants.

I love conducting so much, a dream day would include rehearsing a Haydn symphony in one of my favorite spaces in Washington, the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress. When I conduct Haydn, I am the happiest person in the world. I love his sense of humor and simplicity. Everything is so clear, and at the same time so fine, so elegant. The Coolidge Auditorium is such an intimate space, it was made for chamber music.

I am a good Spaniard — I was born in Madrid — and we like to have, before lunch, the aperitivo — the tapas. So I would go to the Taberna del Alabardero and stand up at the bar, having a drink and some small things to eat. In Spain it’s very typical to have a red wine or what we call una caña, a small beer. My favorite tapa is the tortilla de patatas, a potato omelet.

I would invite three people who I would love to meet: Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court justice; the new representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; and [U.S. Sen.] Tim Kaine from Virginia, who loves Spain and is a great supporter of Hispanic culture. I would invite them for real lunch to another place, a family-run Mexican restaurant called El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria, where we will have Mexican enchiladas.

After so much food, I would like to walk to the Mall and see my favorite memorial, the FDR Memorial. I love the four rooms and the sculptures. It’s a place for quietness and relaxation.

Let’s keep walking to another of my favorite places, The Phillips Collection. I love the small Rothko Room. The simplicity and the elegance in the colors is what excites me about Rothko. I think beauty is the result of excellence, of everything in place — this is what makes Rothko and Haydn so perfect.

I would invite my friends to meet me at Blues Alley to see Arturo Sandoval, the Latin jazz trumpet player. He actually will be performing there in April. I would probably like to have a mojito or maybe just a gin and tonic. What better way to end the day than at Blues Alley having some drinks and dinner with friends?