These NYC kids have written the history of an overlooked Black female composer

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Campus Life, Media Archive on 2021-12-03 20:11Z by Steven

These NYC kids have written the history of an overlooked Black female composer

National Public Radio
2021-12-02

Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Arts Desk

Three of the student authors of Who Is Florence Price? (left to right: Sebastián Núñez, Hazel Peebles and Sophia Shao), joined by their English teacher, Shannon Potts.
Courtesy of Special Music School

For decades, it was almost impossible to hear a piece of music written by Florence Price. Price was a Black, female composer who died in 1953. But a group of New York City middle school students had the opportunity to quite literally write Florence Price’s history. Their book, titled Who Is Florence Price?, is now out and available in stores.

The kids attend Special Music School, a K-12 public school in Manhattan that teaches high-level music instruction alongside academics. Shannon Potts is an English teacher there.

“Our children are musicians, so whether or not we intentionally draw it together, they bring music into the classroom every day in the most delightful ways,” Potts says. “So if you’re talking about themes and poetry, immediately a child will qualify it with the way that a theme repeats in music.”

Potts assigned her sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to study Florence Price — a composer born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887. She was the first Black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her Symphony No. 1 in 1933 and her Piano Concerto in One Movement the next year. In 1939, at her famed Lincoln Memorial concert, the contralto Marian Anderson included Price’s arrangement of the spiritual “My Soul Is Anchored in the Lord.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Who is Florence Price?

Posted in Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 19:33Z by Steven

Who is Florence Price?

Schirmer Trade Books (an imprint of Wise Music Group)
2021-11-18
48 pages
5.75 x 0.4 x 8.25 inches
Hardback ISBN: 9781736533406

Written and Illustrated by Students of the Special Music School at the Kaufman Music Center, New York, New York.

Young musicians tell the story of a girl and her music

Florence [Price] loved her mother’s piano playing and wanted to be just like her. When she was just four years old she played her first piano concert and as she grew up she studied and wrote music hoping one day to hear her own music performed by an orchestra.

The story of a brilliant musician who prevailed against race and gender prejudices to become the first Black woman to be recognised as a symphonic composer and be performed by a major American orchestra in 1933.

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New Children’s Book Tells the Story of Florence Price

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 15:53Z by Steven

New Children’s Book Tells the Story of Florence Price

Wise Music Classical
2021-10-08

A classroom exploration and discovery led students to create an illustrated biography of a composer whose music is being widely celebrated around the world today. Their book Who is Florence Price? will be published by Schirmer Trade Books, part of Wise Music Group, on November 18th 2021.

Florence Price became the first Black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her Symphony No. 1 in 1933. The new children’s book Who Is Florence Price? tells the story of a brilliant musician who prevailed against race and gender prejudices to achieve this important milestone. The book was written and illustrated by 45 middle school students at Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School, New York City’s only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject. The project began when English teacher Shannon Potts realized that there were no materials about Price’s life at the lower school reading level. The students studied Price’s biography and mapped out her life story on a wall, discussing which elements were most important to the narrative for their intended audience: children at approximately the third-grade reading level. After collaboratively writing and revising the text, the students created the illustrations, beginning with backgrounds of cut paper. The book was originally self-published as a classroom project shortly before the [COVID-19] pandemic shut down NYC in the spring of 2020 and has been revised for the 2021 release…

Read the entire article here.

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The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price

Posted in Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2021-11-28 03:06Z by Steven

The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price

University of Arkansas Press
September 2015
Produced by James Greeson
Associate Producer – Dale Carpenter
Narrated by Julia Sampson
Running Time: 00:57:00
DVD ISBN: 978-1-68226-006-7

Born in 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas to extraordinary parents, Florence B. Price became the first African-American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony orchestra when the Chicago Symphony premiered her Symphony at the 1933 World’s Fair. Price’s remarkable achievements during the racist “Jim Crow” era were a testament to her gifts. This is the inspiring story of one woman’s triumph over prejudice and preconceptions.

In addition to the 57 minute feature film it includes six bonus features of fine performances of recently discovered Florence Price compositions and a commentary about the recent discovery of Price materials which are part of the Florence Price collection at the University of Arkansas.

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The Rediscovery of Florence Price

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-11-28 02:10Z by Steven

The Rediscovery of Florence Price

The New Yorker
2018-01-29

Alex Ross

Price’s Second Violin Concerto explores unstable harmonic terrain. Illustration by Paul Rogers

How an African-American composer’s works were saved from destruction.

In 2009, Vicki and Darrell Gatwood, of St. Anne, Illinois, were preparing to renovate an abandoned house on the outskirts of town. The structure was in poor condition: vandals had ransacked it, and a fallen tree had torn a hole in the roof. In a part of the house that had remained dry, the Gatwoods made a curious discovery: piles of musical manuscripts, books, personal papers, and other documents. The name that kept appearing in the materials was that of Florence Price. The Gatwoods looked her up on the Internet, and found that she was a moderately well-known composer, based in Chicago, who had died in 1953. The dilapidated house had once been her summer home. The couple got in touch with librarians at the University of Arkansas, which already had some of Price’s papers. Archivists realized, with excitement, that the collection contained dozens of Price scores that had been thought lost. Two of these pieces, the Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, have recently been recorded by the Albany label: the soloist is Er-Gene Kahng, who is based at the University of Arkansas.

The reasons for the shocking neglect of Price’s legacy are not hard to find. In a 1943 letter to the conductor Serge Koussevitzky, she introduced herself thus: “My dear Dr. Koussevitzky, To begin with I have two handicaps—those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins.” She plainly saw these factors as obstacles to her career, because she then spoke of Koussevitzky “knowing the worst.” Indeed, she had a difficult time making headway in a culture that defined composers as white, male, and dead. One prominent conductor took up her cause—Frederick Stock, the German-born music director of the Chicago Symphony—but most others ignored her, Koussevitzky included. Only in the past couple of decades have Price’s major works begun to receive recordings and performances, and these are still infrequent.

The musicologist Douglas Shadle, who has documented the vagaries of Price’s career, describes her reputation as “spectral.” She is widely cited as one of the first African-American classical composers to win national attention, and she was unquestionably the first black woman to be so recognized. Yet she is mentioned more often than she is heard. Shadle points out that the classical canon is rooted in “conscious selection performed by individuals in positions of power.” Not only did Price fail to enter the canon; a large quantity of her music came perilously close to obliteration. That run-down house in St. Anne is a potent symbol of how a country can forget its cultural history…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3’ Nominated For Grammy Award

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-11-26 01:51Z by Steven

‘Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3’ Nominated For Grammy Award

uDiscover Music
2021-11-24

Sharon Kelly

Florence Price Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 – Photo: Deutsche Grammophon

Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s recording of ‘Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3’ has been nominated for a Grammy Award.

Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s critically acclaimed Deutsche Grammophon recording of Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 has been nominated for Best Orchestral Performance for the 2022 Grammy Awards. The Grammy, which celebrates both artistic and technical achievement, is the recording industry’s most prestigious award.

“We’re honoured that the Recording Academy continues to recognise our work,” said Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “Over the past year our artists have released some extraordinary recordings, from monuments of the repertoire such as Mahler’sSymphony of a Thousand’ to the recently rediscovered symphonies of Florence Price. They have connected with new audiences around the world and demonstrated the life-enhancing spirit of classical music in all its forms. I’m delighted that their achievements are reflected in the nominations for the 2022 GRAMMY Awards.”…

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An Overdue Ovation for Florence Price

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-11-26 01:28Z by Steven

An Overdue Ovation for Florence Price

Little Rock Soirée
2021-09-29

Heather Honaker

Photo of Florence Price by G. Nelidoff, courtesy of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

“I am a woman, and I have some Negro blood in my veins – and you will understand some of the difficulties that confront one in such a position. Please judge my music on its own merit,” wrote Florence Price to Boston Symphony conductor Serge Koussevitzky in 1943.

Price was born a Little Rock native in 1887 into a mixed-race family at 2100 Broadway. Her father was the only Black dentist in town, and her mother was a music teacher. She began playing the piano and composing music at 3 years old, and at 11, published her first work. She graduated valedictorian of Capitol Hill High School at the age of 14 and went on to study at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston at 16.

One of only three Black students at the conservatory, Price was counseled by her mother to list her hometown as Pueblo, Mexico, to conceal her race. She graduated with honors in three years with a double-major in organ performance and piano teaching.

After school, she came home to teach at Cotton Plant Academy and then Shorter College before moving to Atlanta to become head of the Clark College Music Department. In 1912, she returned to Little Rock to marry attorney Thomas Price and raise a family.

Racial tensions caused them to move to Chicago in 1927, and it wasn’t long before she and her husband divorced. There, she attended classes to perfect her craft, played the organ for silent film screenings and wrote songs for radio ads…

Read the entire article here.

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“I have two handicaps, I am a woman and I have some Negro blood in my veins.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2020-06-18 00:31Z by Steven

[Florence] Price and her music were well received in Chicago. The great contralto Marian Anderson closed her legendary 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert with a piece arranged by Price. Still, she scraped to make ends meet, writing pop tunes and accompanying silent films. In 1943, she sent a letter to Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, acknowledging what she was up against. “I have two handicaps,” she wrote: “I am a woman and I have some Negro blood in my veins.”

Tom Huizenga, “Revisiting The Pioneering Composer Florence Price,” All Things Considered, National Public Radio, January 21, 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/01/21/686622572/revisiting-the-pioneering-composer-florence-price.

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Revisiting The Pioneering Composer Florence Price

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2020-06-18 00:10Z by Steven

Revisiting The Pioneering Composer Florence Price

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2019-01-21

Tom Huizenga, Music Producer


Florence Price was the first African-American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony orchestra.
Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries

In 1933, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere of Symphony No. 1 by a then little-known composer named Florence Price. The performance marked the first time a major orchestra played music by an African-American woman.

Price’s First Symphony, along with her Fourth, has just been released on an album featuring the Fort Smith Symphony, conducted by John Jeter.

Fans of Price, especially in the African-American community, may argue that her music has never really been forgotten. But some of it has been lost. Not long ago, a couple bought a fixer-upper, south of Chicago, and discovered nearly 30 boxes of manuscripts and papers. Among the discoveries in what turned out to be Price’s abandoned summer home was her Fourth Symphony, composed in 1945. This world-premiere recording is another new piece of the puzzle to understanding the life and music of Price, and a particular time in America’s cultural history.

Read the story here. Listen to the story (00:04:00) here.

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