Thursday, January 20, 2011

CBMR: 'Black Prism: Concert Works by African-American Composers' Harris Theater, Chicago Feb. 17

A spectacular and varied evening of music by African-American composers.

1. Florence B. Price, Symphony No. 1 in E Minor
2. Florence B. Price, Concerto in One Movement
3. Mary D. Watkins, Five Movements in Color
4. Olly W. Wilson, Of Visions and Truth: A Song Cycle

Thursday, February 17, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
205 E. Randolph Dr., Chicago, Illinois

Tickets $20–$55
Tickets are available only through the Harris Theater Box Office
Call 312.334.7777
Visit 205 E. Randolph
Box Office hours are 12 p.m.–6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on performance days until curtain. Student, retired, and group discounts are available.

New Black Music Repertory Ensemble: Kirk Edward Smith, conductor; Leslie Dunner, conductor; Karen Walwyn, piano; Bonita Hyman, mezzo soprano; Thomas Young, tenor; Donnie Ray Albert, baritone

Florence B. Price

Olly W. Wilson

Mary D. Watkins

Florence B. Price (1887–1953) was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but lived and worked in Chicago from 1924 to 1953. Her first symphony, which is considered among the main concert musical achievements of the Harlem Renaissance, was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933 and was the first piece by a black woman to be performed by a major symphony orchestra in the United States. Her Concerto in One Movement for piano was premiered in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall in 1934. This will be the world premiere performance of the reconstructed score for the concerto. The New BMRE will record both Price works for the second issue in the Recorded Music of the African Diaspora series.

Olly W. Wilson, Of Visions and Truth: A Song Cycle. Wilson's stunning five-movement work for chamber ensemble and three vocalists uses musical and textual emblems from African-American culture in inventive ways that both surprise and entice. Wilson writes that [this work] “is based on my personal reflection on the historical status of African-American males in American society.”

“If We Must Die” from Of Visions and Truth: A Song Cycle, as recorded by the New BMRE
Mary D. Watkins, Five Movements in Color. A work that swings, grooves, and hearkens to the roots of African-American music expression, with elements of jazz, traditional African music, and popular music forms. The composer refers to the work for full symphony orchestra as an “epochal painting or poem about our journey as a [black] people in this country.”

“Soul of Remembrance” from Five Movements in Color, as recorded by the New BMRE
The Watkins and Wilson works were recently recorded by the New BMRE and released by Albany Records as the first issue in the new series Recorded Music of the African Diaspora, available at,, or

This performance is supported in part with a grant from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art.

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