Sunday, February 5, 2012 Concert Sponsored by Peoria S. O. 7:30 PM Feb. 7 Features Works of Edmond Dédé and Florence B. Price

[TOP: Florence B. Price BOTTOM: Edmond Dede; Hot Springs Music Festival; Richard Rosenberg, Conductor; Naxos 8.559038 (2000)]

By Gary Panetta 
Posted Feb 05, 2012
“African-American contributions to classical music are acknowledged to a degree in music textbooks - when it comes to figures such as William Grant Still and Coleridge Taylor.” “A concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Eureka College, however, opens a few more chapters into what is an intriguing and complicated story. 'Free Men and Free Minds'/'Migrations,' sponsored by the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and featuring pianist John Orfe and visiting vocalist Carren Moham, looks at two largely unexplored time periods of African-American music.

One is before the Civil War, when legions of free African-Americans, who also happened to be composers, left the United States for Europe - especially France, where they began to produce a large body of fascinating classical music, most of which has gone unacknowledged and unperformed in any major way. They include figures such as Edmond Dede (1827-1901), a New Orleans-born Creole and child-prodigy who was forced to flee to Mexico because of white 

The other period consists of the decades after the Civil War and into the 20th century, when industrialization lured many African-Americans to northern cities in quest of work. One of this migration's greatest cultural creations was jazz and blues. But what's less known is that classical music resulted as well - song cycles such as 'Out of the South' by Florence Beatrice Price (1887-1953), which sets to music poetry by Harlem Renaissance writers such as Langston Hughes and Paul Lawrence Dunbar.”

The concert grew out of Stelluto's research into music for the symphony's international concert, which will be held in March." “I started looking up Florence Beatrice Price who was the first black American woman whose work was performed by the Chicago Symphony...” “But it's not just the composers, it's also their influence. For instance, Wilhelm Grosz, an Austrian-born composer who fled the Nazis, wrote a series of 'Afrika-Songs' in the early 1930s. They're German translations of Langston Hughes poetry, and the music is jazz-influenced.”

'Free Men, Free Minds'/'Migrations'
- What: Concert exploring the music of African-American composers who fled the United States before the Civil War as well as those who composed in the decades following. The featured performers are John Orfe, a pianist and composer who has performed internationally and is the resident composer for the Peoria Symphony; and Carren Moham, a professor of music at Illinois Wesleyan University. She has performed with Tulsa Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Columbus and many other organizations.
- When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7.
- Where: Becker Auditorium at Eureka College.
- Tickets: $10. Call 467-6420 for more information. The Peoria Symphony's 2011-12 chamber music series is sponsored by Eureka College.”

[Edmond Dédé (1827-1903) and Florence B. Price (1887-1953) are profiled at, which features a complete Works list for Florence B. Price by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,]

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