Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association Festival “RIVERS: Nature. Power. Culture” beginning Thursday, May 9, 2013

Florence B. Price

Margaret Allison Bonds

Theodore Charles Stone

Barbara Wright-Pryor writes:

Dear Bill,
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) will convene a multi-week, multi-genre festival entitled “RIVERS: Nature. Power. Culture” beginning Thursday, May 9, 2013.

The Festival begins with performances by The Chicago Symphony Orchestra on May 9, 11 and 14 featuring Florence B. Price’s The Mississippi River which portrays the majestic river’s history in music through orchestrated Negro spirituals, folk song and original material.
In 1933 at the Chicago World’s Fair, Florence B. Price (1887-1953) was the first black female composer to have a symphony performed by a major U.S. orchestra when her Symphony No. 1 in E minor was played by the CSO conducted by music director Frederick Stock. William Grant Still (1895-1978), recognized as “The Dean of Black Classical Composers,” became the first black composer to have a work played by a major American orchestra when his Symphony No. 1 “Afro-American” was performed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Howard Hanson in 1931
I will present the pre-concert lectures for each of these programs as the current president of Chicago Music Association (CMA), Branch No. 1, NANM, Inc., the organization that championed Price’s compositions and UNDERWROTE THE JUNE 15, 1933 PERFORMANCE of her symphony by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 
Henry Pleas, tenor accompanied by Charles Hayes, piano will perform two art songs by Florence Price, Night and Songs to the Dark Virgin. Both performers are members of CMA.

Florence Price joined the R. Nathaniel Dett Club of Music and Allied Arts (NANM, Inc.) shortly after arriving in Chicago in 1927. She met Theodore Charles Stone (1912-1998) at Chicago Musical College (now Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University) where they were both students and he encouraged her to join Chicago Music Association, Br. No. 1, NANM, Inc. There she met Estella Bonds and her daughter Margaret Bonds (1913-1972) resulting in a musical alliance that would last her entire lifetime. 
The New Black Music Repertory Ensemble (of the Center for Black Music Research) conducted by Leslie B. Dunner recorded Price's Concerto in One Movement, Karen Walwyn, pianist, and Symphony No. 1 in E minor at Chicago's Harris Theater for Music and Dance in 2011. It is available through Albany Records. It has been 80 years since a composition by Florence Price has been played by the CSO.
Musically yours,

Barbara Wright-Pryor 
Chicago Music Association, 
Branch No. 1, NANM Inc. (since 1919)

[Margaret Allison Bonds, R. Nathaniel Dett, Florence B. Price and William Grant Still are profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a comprehensive Works list for each of the four composers by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com.]

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