“Who is Florence Price?” »Highlights the composer of black symphonies

Florence Price, a Black composer who died in 1953, could have gone unnoticed in history without a group of music students in New York. The middle school students studied Ms. Price’s work, then wrote and published a book called “Who is Florence Price?” which is available now.

And who was Mrs. Price? She was the first black woman to create music performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. Her Symphony No. 1 and Piano Concerto in One Movement were subsequently performed by the famous National Orchestra.

However, due to white supremacy and systemic racism within the classical and symphonic music industry, Ms. Price never achieved the accolades she so deserved. In a letter to one of his contemporaries, conductor Serge Koussevitzky, she wrote: “I have two handicaps: those of sex and race.

The students who wrote the book agree that Ms. Price’s talent and drive has been hampered by racism and sexism.

According to Cobie Buckmire, a 13-year-old music student from Brooklyn, “All the other famous composers are white men like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach. I didn’t even know who she was until I started this.

Middle school students at Manhattan’s Special Music School were commissioned to study Ms. Price by their English teacher, Shannon Potts. After learning that Ms. Price was often overlooked in music history, they decided to write a book about her life and accomplishments.

According to Ms. Potts, “We talk about representation all the time in literature. So that children can become like authors and activists, disrupting the story of how classical music is told. They no longer become, as a diverse population, the victims of a largely white society. ”

Meanwhile, the book also reflects a renewed national interest in Ms. Price’s work. A recording of his symphonies performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy Award, and the Francisco Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra all intend to perform his work.

All the benefits of sales of “Who is Florence Price?”Will benefit the Kaufman Music Center, a New York City nonprofit.

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