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Doug Shadle Lecture on Florence Price

Thursday, February 28, 2019

7:30 p.m.

Krannert Fine Arts Building, Wheeler Concert Hall, University of Evansville Campus, 1800 Lincoln Ave, Evansville, IN

All works by Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

“Song to the Dark Virgin”
text by Langston Hughes

text by Laurence Dunbar

Karisa Millington,
Garnet Ungar, piano

Sonata in E Minor, mvt. II, Andante

Anne Fiedler, piano

“Feet O’ Jesus”
text by Langston Hughes

“Trouble Done Come My Way”
text by Florence B. Price

Eric McCluskey, baritone
Garnet Ungar, piano

“An April Day”
text by Joseph Cotter

text by Paul Laurence Dunbar

text by Langston Hughes

Alanna Keenan, soprano
Anne Fielder, piano

Florence Price (1887-1953) was the first black American woman to win widespread recognition as a symphonic composer, rising to prominence in the 1930s. After early training with her mother she studied composition at the New England Conservatory in Boston with Wallace Goodrich and Frederick Converse and privately with George Whitefield Chadwick. She returned to the South to teach at the Cotton Plant-Arkadelphia Academy and Shorter College in Little Rock, then headed the music department of Clark College in Atlanta. In 1927, presumably to escape the increasing racial oppression in the South, the Price family moved to Chicago. There she began a period of compositional creativity and study at the American Conservatory and at the Chicago Musical College. In the 1920s she began to win awards for her compositions, and in 1932 she achieved national recognition when she won first prize in the Wanamaker competition for her Symphony in E minor. With the symphony's première in 1933 by the Chicago SO under Stock, Price became the first black American woman to have an orchestral work performed by a major American orchestra. She remained active as a composer and teacher until her death.

Price played the theatre organ for silent films, wrote popular music for commercial purposes and orchestrated arrangements for soloists and choirs who performed with the WGN Radio orchestra in Chicago. She is best known for her songs: her art songs and arrangements of spirituals were sung by many of the most renowned singers of the day. Her output, comprising over 300 compositions, remains unpublished, apart from a handful of songs and piano pieces.
- Rae Linda Brown, Grove Music Online, 2001

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