Dunbar Historic District Association kicks off Florence B. Price celebrations | KTVE

SMALL ROCK, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) – According to Dunbar Historic District Association (DHNA), the organization launched a week of activities on Sunday, April 3, 2022 to celebrate the life, legacy and music of the late Florence B. Price. Price is the first African-American composer to have her music performed by a major American orchestra and one of the first African-American classical composers to achieve international acclaim.

To celebrate Price’s birthday, DHNA has scheduled several free activities open to the public.

The first scheduled event was Florence Price’s “Community Garden Party”, which featured Price’s music and compositions with a jazzy keyboardist and vocalist, poetry readings, a chess competition, and light refreshments.

According to the organization, a week of activities scheduled by DHNA will culminate on April 9 with the “Music From the Heart” event featuring concert pianist Julia Buckingham. It will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center located at 501 W. Ninth Street in downtown Little Rock.

DHNA Executive Director Angel Burt said that as Price gains new recognition around the world and across the United States for her symphonic compositions, DHNA is shining a light on Florence’s accomplishments to those who have never heard her music or who knew she was born in the historic Dunbar neighborhood of Little Rock.

“Over the past few years, there have been Florence Price festivals and celebrations, in cities like Chicago and Baltimore; smaller communities like South Bend, Indiana, Bowling Green, Ohio, and Sequin, Texas; and even as far away as England and France,” Burt said. “Although she was unable to perform her works in Arkansas because of racism, now is the time to recognize her as one of the greatest composers in American history.”

Burt noted that in August 2021, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with DHNA, hosted a world premiere of the Little Rock native’s own orchestration of her piano concerto. This free event was sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.

In November 2021, Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed April 9, 2022 as Florence B. Price Day.

At this year’s event, Hutchinson will perform a video birthday tribute to Price and welcome concert-goers to the Historic Downtown African American Museum and Cultural Center. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. will also be present at the historic celebration and will deliver closing remarks.

The Mosaic Templars concert will feature an assortment of compositions by Price by Buckingham, who has performed a variety of styles at concert series and festival programs across the United States. The University of Arkansas graduate is known for her pitch-perfect tone and has been called a musical prodigy since the first instructor recognized her talents at age four. Other featured musical guests at the upcoming event will include Linda Holzer, professor of music at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; local opera singer Nesheeda Golden, a mezzo-soprano; and baritone Ronald W. McDaniel ll.

Price herself was a child piano prodigy who attended the prestigious New England Conservatory in Boston. After graduating, she worked as a music teacher in Arkansas for four years, then worked as head of the music department at Clark University in Atlanta.

After returning to Little Rock in 1912, Price was active as a teacher, organist, composer, and founder of the Little Rock Club of Musicians. However, she was denied entry to the Arkansas State Music Teachers Association between 1917 and 1927 because of her race.

Besides the rally at the Community Garden Party and the press conference on Monday, here is the schedule of other events that will be held in Price’s honor:

  • On April 5, a Florence Price “Hear What I Hear” listening party will be held at Dunbar Magnet Middle School, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and Gibbs Elementary School. Students at these local schools in historic Dunbar will listen to Price’s music and give an impression of how the music makes them think and feel. School lesson plans through April will also include historical information about Price’s music and works.
  • On April 6, Linda Holzer, professor of music at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will give a Florence Price Lecture to students at Little Rock Central High. This conference will be broadcast on the UA Little Rock public television network.
  • On April 7, the winners of the Florence B. Price art and essay contest from Dunbar, MLK, Gibbs, and Horace Mann Middle Magnet School will be announced. The top three winners will all receive cash prizes and recognition on April 9 at the Mosaic Templars Concert, where their art and essays will also be on display. During the day’s activities, elementary students will watch a three-minute short film about Price’s life. Middle and high school students will also watch a 14-minute documentary about the Little Rock native, who was also a music teacher, church pianist and organist at Allison Presbyterian Church.
  • On April 9, Little Rock public radio station KUAR, 89.1 FM, will celebrate the African-American composer’s birthday with “Florence Price Music Day.”

For more information regarding the marker ceremony and fundraising, please contact DHNA at [email protected]Where (501)-690-9869. To reserve your spot RSVP before April 7, as spots for this event are limited. To make reservations, click here.

According to DHNA, sponsors include:

  • Arkansas Humanities
  • Little Rock School District
  • Pyramid Art
  • Books and custom framing
  • Town of Little Rock
  • Templar Mosaic Cultural Center
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