The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas will record a quintet by Little Rock-born composer Florence Price (1887-1953) in the Great Hall at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, to be released Feb. 25 as a virtual concert.
Price, who in her day left Arkansas to pursue her career as a composer in Chicago, became the the first Black woman composer to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra, and the rediscovery in 2009 of a trove of Price’s manuscripts in an abandoned house in Illinois rekindled interest in her work. Here in Arkansas, work by violinist/professor Er-Gene Kahng and others has helped get Price’s music into the ears of classical music fans who might not have otherwise encountered Price’s work.
“It’s hard to overstate how excited we are about this recording,” SoNA music director Paul Haas said. “Florence Price’s astounding work is exciting enough, but the fact that her music has been unjustly ignored through all these years adds to the urgency of getting this piece out and into the ears of music lovers everywhere. I’m so proud, both of our musicians’ incredible playing, and of SoNA itself for helping bring attention to this astonishingly gifted composer.”
“Despite extraordinary barriers for success in classical music faced by black women, despite living through the Great Depression, and despite many other challenges in her life, Florence Price never ceased being a visionary artist and a fierce advocate for her music,” SoNA Executive Director D. Riley Nicholson said. “Price created a prolific artistic output and achieved many successes. But what is most remarkable is the music itself — even if you don’t know Price’s story, you will be captivated by her music’s vibrance, accessibility, authenticity and originality.”
The concert is free to watch, and will be released at noon Feb. 25 on SoNA’s Facebook and YouTube