Sunday, November 25, 2018

New York Times: Classical: A Florence Price Concerto in New Jersey Nov. 29-Dec. 2

Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

November 23, 2018

Nov. 29-Dec. 2;

In 1934, a year after the Chicago Symphony performed Florence Price’s Symphony in E Minor — marking the first time music written by a black woman was played by a major American orchestra — the composer debuted her Piano Concerto in One Movement. Like the powerful symphony that brought Price national attention, the concerto draws together African-American folk music and spirituals with a silvery Romanticism. 

Though the concerto was heralded in its premiere with Price at the piano, its symphonic version fell off the radar for decades because of missing orchestral parts. Working with extant manuscript materials, the composer Trevor Weston reconstructed the score, and it was successfully performed and recorded by the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble in 2011.

As Price’s music is increasingly recognized by a previously neglectful classical mainstream, the concerto has begun to see the wider renown it deserves. This week in Newark and New Brunswick, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra places it alongside other modernist classics including Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” led by the imaginatively improvisational pianist Aaron Diehl and conductor Joshua Weilerstein. WILLIAM ROBIN

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