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OU School of Music to stream free tribute to trailblazing Black, female composer

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Florence Price

The OU School of Music's musical tribute for composer Florence Price will begin at 8 p.m. April 9.

The OU School of Music will put on a musical tribute to the “first noted African American female composer” Florence Price with a live stream tribute concert, April 9.

The tribute will feature instrumental and lyrical songs written by Price, a classical composer from the early 20th century who created orchestral pieces alongside vocal music. Undergraduate and graduate students will perform all of the pieces, according to a press release. 

Before the tribute, music theory professor Sarah Ellis will present a lecture discussing Price’s life and influences in her music.

“(Price) was very good at combining classical elements with African styles,” Ellis said. “She was incredibly talented at bringing it all together.”

Price, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, came to popularity as the first African American female composer to have her work performed by a major United States orchestra. Her piece “Symphony No. 1 in E minor” was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933 for its world premiere, according to the press release.

Ellis began teaching about Price three years ago in an effort to diversify what she taught her students, she said.

“I want to work hard to expand the repertoire of the music that I teach,” Ellis said. “It was important that I taught about not only a female composer, but a composer of color, born and raised not three hours from our school.”

Ellis said she hopes people attend the tribute so the community can learn more about Price and her work.

“Her music is stirring and elegant,” Ellis said. “It’s been very eye-opening to learn more and more about … what she had to deal with. I really hope people come and watch.”

The lecture and tribute will be free to stream at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 9 through the OU School of Music’s Twitch channel.

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