Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Statements on the Chicago Sinfonietta's Opening Concerts of the Coming Season, by Barbara Wright-Pryor, Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma and William J. Zick

Florence B. Price: Concerto in One Movement and Symphony in E Minor [Symphony No. 1]
Recorded Music of the African Diaspora, Vol. 3
 CBMR/Albany Records TROY1295 (2011)

Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1887-1953)
is profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features
a comprehensive Works Lists by
Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,

On August 17, 2013 AfriClassical posted: "Chicago Sinfonietta Presents Daring Program Blending Live Hip-Hop And Orchestral Classics In 'eMotion'”  We presented the complete press release of the Chicago Sinfonietta, without comment.

August 27, 2013
Statements of Barbara Wright-Pryor, Dominique-René de Lerma and William J. Zick:

The following statements are responses to the announcement of the Chicago Sinfonietta's plan for the opening concert of the coming season.  The undersigned grant full reprint permission and look forward to support of the press and public.

                           "As the current President of Chicago Music Association, Br. No. 1, The National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. (Since 1919), the organization that championed the works of its member, composer Florence Price, and underwrote the contract with Frederick Stock and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the historical June 15,1933 premiere of Symphony No. 1 in E minor, I am appalled by The Chicago Sinfonietta's upcoming September 14 & 15, 2013 performance of "eMotion" that will extract Movements 3 and 4 from the symphony as a whole to be re-envisioned as accompaniment for hip-hop dance."
              "This is disgraceful and reveals a total lack of respect for, or understanding of, symphonic literature and/or works by Black composers and Founding Music Director Paul Freeman's original mission for the orchestra by its current musical and executive leadership."
Barbara Wright-Pryor
President, Chicago Music Association

       "Florence B. Price did not have an easy time of gaining recognition for the excellence of her orchestral and symphonic compositions.  Lacking other avenues, Price concentrated on competitions.  Horace J. Maxile, Jr., Associate Director of Research of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago, wrote the liner notes for the historic recording of Price's Concerto in One Movement and Symphony in E Minor, Albany Records Troy1295 (2011).  Maxile writes of Price's compositional progress and experiences:
              "This wide range of influences coupled with strong craftmanship has left an indelible legacy which is highlighted by her ground-breaking Symphony in E Minor, which was the first prize winner of the 1932 Rodman Wanamaker Music Contest and is considered among the main concert musical achievements of the period.  Premiered in 1933 by Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Chicago World's Fair Century of Progress Exhibition, Price's Symphony in E Minor, her first symphony, is the first work by a black woman to be performed by a major symphony orchestra in the United States."
              "The Symphony in E Minor's Rodman Wanamaker prize notwithstanding, the premier recording was not made until 2011, some 78 years after the work's premiere.   This composition is to be reduced to Movements III and IV in the "Orchestra Dance Mix".  This "Collaborative Performance" clearly robs the Symphony in E Minor of its integrity as a complete work of classical music.
               "Similar treatment of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Suite will not significantly affect the composer's extremely well-known legacy as a composer.  Florence Price's symphonies are rarely performed, and are far more vulnerable when used for non-classical purposes." 

William J, Zick
Webmaster, AfriClassical.com

              "My association with Paul Freeman began 43 years ago when plans were being formulated in what resulted in the award-winning 9 LP recordings of The Black Composers Series, issued initially by Columbia Records and now available from the College Music Society.  The issue of these discs helped confirm the standings of such giants as George Walker, Ulysses Kay, and William Grant Still, and introduce composers as Saint-Georges, José White, and José Maurício Nunes-Garcia. I know it gave valid hope to the younger generation, certainly including Adolphus Hailstork and Talib Hakim, who have then established themselves as gifted and outstanding creators.
             "During these years we met often in the United States and in Europe, and I came to know Dr. Freeman as an uncompromising person, unswerving in his reasoned steps toward his goal of service to the very highest standards in Black artistry.  I saw him evolve into a jet-set conductor who nonetheless gave his dedication and devotion to his position in British Columbia and then to his dream of realizing a major non-discriminating ensemble in Chicago, one which had a distinct and well-defined mission from the start regarding minority composers and performers, faithfully presented. This was an astonishing accomplishment; all similar efforts by others had failed.  Paul's guidance offered the public an alternate to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, on a basis that was no less lofty.
            " In my own work as administrator, I knew that diluted goals and changed directions emasculate the mission.  What I have heard taking place with the Chicago Sinfonietta is deplorable, trivializing its very reason for being, in the false expectation that this will encourage audience development, but any attracted to those lowered standards will only be for a continuation of that level, cemented there by the  absence of aesthetic values and artistic integrity.
              "No less criminal is the shameful abandonment of the noble intents of Dr. Freeman, so soon after his absence.  Following this foolish path will result in the Sinfonietta's becoming much less than a pops ensemble, no longer faithful to its important distinction, disinterested in its reason to exist, and with no laudable future." 
Dominique-René de Lerma
Professor emeritus, Lawrence University

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