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Beethoven & Blue Jeans: The Music of William Grant Still and Florence Price

By Stephanie Smittle

SATURDAY 11/9, 7:30 p.m.; SUNDAY 11/10, 3 p.m. Robinson Performance Hall. $10-$70.

courtesy of ASO
$10 – $70

As Arkansas Times contributor Kally Patz put it in a 2018 piece on Little Rock-born composer Florence Price, “when the winners of the Rodman Wanamaker Contest in Musical Composition for African-American composers were announced, newspapers described the results as if a once-in-a-century meteor had dropped to earth. Florence Price had won not only first place in the competition’s most prestigious category for her symphony, but also honorable mention in that category, first place in a different category, and honorable mention in that category as well. Even in the song category, which she’d not entered, she had, in a sense, won: [Margaret] Bonds, her student, had taken first place.” Problem was, she had to leave Arkansas to get proper recognition; a brutal lynching and an abusive marriage drove her to Chicago, where a flourishing career for a composer of color — and a woman, no less — was within the realm of possibility. Her “Piano Concerto in One Movement” is the anchor for this concert from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, with pianist and Price scholar Karen Walwyn (pictured) at the center. Beethoven’s beloved “Eroica” is also on the bill, along with William Grant Still’s “Festive Overture.” With the African-American trailblazers’ pieces, the performance will be historically symbolic; Robinson Performance Hall, a segregated facility during Price’s and Still’s lifetimes, now has an atrium and a grand ballroom named for the two Arkansas composers. Get tickets at


November 10, 2019
$10 – $70
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Robinson Performance Hall
426 W Markham St.
Little Rock, AR 72201
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