Friday, January 4, 2019

Naxos releases Florence Price's Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 with Fort Smith Symphony

Florence Beatrice Price
Symphonies No. 1 in E minor
& No. 4 in D minor
Fort Smith Symphony
John Jeter


January 4, 2019

NEW YORK, NY—This January Naxos is proud to release the world premiere recording of Florence Beatrice Price Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 featuring the Fort Smith Symphony led by music director John Jeter [Naxos American Classics; 8.559827]. The Fort Smith orchestra, which has an ongoing commitment to presenting the rich musical legacy of the 25th state, has performed and recorded music by both of the first prominent and recognized Arkansas-based African-American concert composers: Florence Price (1887-1953), who was born in Little Rock; and William Grant Still (1895-1978), who was born in Mississippi but raised in Little Rock. (The orchestra’s three-volume series of the Symphonies of William Grant Still is also available on Naxos American Classics, 8.559174; 8.559603; 8.559676.) 

John Jeter writes: “The largest collection of Florence Price manuscripts is in the University of Arkansas Special Collections Library in Fayetteville, Arkansas just one hour north of Fort Smith. Viewing the Price collection with the assistance of Price scholar Dr. James Greeson helped me realize what a treasure trove of music there is and the need for these works of Price to be performed and recorded. Many of the works in the Special Collections Library were Price manuscripts discovered in an abandoned house in Kankakee, IL. The old structure had been a summer home and composing retreat for Price. One of the manuscripts was her handwritten completed Fourth Symphony, a work that had never been performed. Upon receiving the proper permissions, we contacted composer and copyist Miho Sasaki who created a performing edition (conductor’s score and orchestra parts) of the music from the handwritten manuscript. Price’s often pristine and beautiful completed manuscript presented numerous challenges deciphering sometimes unclear notation, with many editorial choices needing to be made by the copyist (who is herself an outstanding composer) and later by the orchestra and me during rehearsals. The end result is a wonderful realization of her work. The Fort Smith Symphony performance and recording of Price’s First Symphony (coupled on this Naxos release) includes the most up-to-date scholarship and performing edition.” The music of Florence Price is under the license of G. Schirmer, Inc. 

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