Florence Price World Premiere at School of Music Saturday 3/26

By Molly Windover, March 22, 2022

Recently discovered "Song of Hope", for chorus and orchestra, to be performed for the first time in its intended format

Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra
Michael Stern, graduate conductor

Saturday, March 26, 2022
8:15 p.m.
Ford Hall, James J. Whalen Center for Music

(also available virtually via live webcast here)

composer Florence Price sitting at the piano

A collaboration among the Ithaca College School of Music, Cornell University, and Ithaca High School, the project is led by Michael Stern, MM Conducting '22, and made possible through partnership with ONEcomposer.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and educated at the New England Conservatory of Music, Price (1887-1953) was a classical composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher. She is noted as the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra when her Symphony No. 1 in E minor was performed in 1933 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, a substantial collection of her works and papers was found in her abandoned summer home.

According to graduate student conductor Michael Stern, B.M. ’18, Price wrote “Song of Hope” in 1930 for orchestra, large choir, and multiple vocal soloists, but it was never performed.

“The piece was lost to time until G. Schirmer bought the rights to her music in 2018,” said Stern. “A friend of mine found her original manuscript in the Library of Congress and passed it along to me. It was published professionally less than a year ago, and by all accounts, we will be premiering a 92-year-old piece.”

Stern says the concert project has been an amazing examination of community allyship, elevating the voice of a historically and systemically excluded composer and giving a new light to her music.

“Programming a piece for which no recordings exist and the composer isn't alive to make corrections or give advice is unfathomable, and incredibly uncommon,” said Stern. “It's my hope that the resources that we have here at Ithaca College will serve as a springboard to bring this piece into the canon of classical music.”

Performing “Song of Hope” will be a choir comprised of the Ithaca High School Chorale, Cornell University Chamber Singers, and Ithaca College Madrigal Singers alongside the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra. The two soloists are current School of Music senior Naya Griles and former student Holden Turner.

“None of this would be possible without the generous support of ONEcomposer—an organization that seeks to promote the works of composers whose compositions have been historically erased,” said Stern, noting that its board of directors includes School of Music faculty members Tamara Acosta, Steven Banks, and Baruch Whitehead.

The concert will also feature performances by the Symphony Orchestra of Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture” and Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.”

Full concert program can be found here

A pre-concert talk with Professor Michael Cooper (Southwestern University), Michael Stern, and members of the ONEcomposer board will take place at 7:15 p.m. in Iger Lecture Hall. Cooper is a leading researcher on the life and music of Florence Price.
Read more in Professor Cooper's article about the performance here.

Concert is free and open to the public.
At this time, the public is welcome to campus. We request that masks be worn at concerts.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Erik Kibelsbeck at ekibelsbeck@ithaca.edu or 607-274-3717. We ask that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible.