Grieving and healing: Julia Perry's "Stabat Mater"

The U.S. continues to mourn the massacre of nine African Americans in a South Carolina church.  At the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s funeral service, President Barack Obama drew on the healing power of words melded with music, as he sang “Amazing Grace.”  This was a remarkable moment – I can’t remember another President turning to music in this way.  The effect was evocative, as the President grasped what was needed and brought people together through this simple musical expression. I had my own thoughts about a musical work that would be effective as a response to this tragic event, a work expressing…

NEW DISCOVERIES of Florence Price's Music revealed in Arkansas Festival!!

The historic importance of Florence Price (1887–1953), as the first African American woman to have a Symphony performed by a major orchestra, has been recognized.  However, while she had some success in her lifetime, after she died very little of her music remained the performing repertoire. A few of her songs were known — after all she was championed by Marian Anderson  — but her orchestral music was unknown until the 2001 recording by The Women’s Philharmonic. Recently, progress has been made: two of her symphonies have been published, and conductor Mei Ann Chen has taken up Florence Price, performing her with…

Making Waves with the Mississippi River Suite: Mei Ann Chen Brings Florence Price's Music to Chicago Symphony

Acclaimed conductor Mei-Ann Chen is just completing her first year as Music Director of the Chicago Sinfonietta.  And Thursday she made her debut as a guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra‘s subscription series.  She made quite a  “splash” with Florence Price’s Mississippi River Suite—the press has been filled with praise for the inspired leadership she brings to this work. The Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein enthuses that “Chen clearly believes in the musical merits of ‘Mississippi River,’ and she succeeded in transferring her admiration to the orchestra”—and the audiences as well!  Dating from 1934, ” the suite is attractive, tuneful, nostalgic, cannily scored, direct…