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story.lead_photo.caption Pianist Karen Walwyn

The music of two Arkansas composers and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, "Eroica," are on the program for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's "Beethoven and Blue Jeans" concerts, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Robinson Center Performance Hall, West Markham Street and Broadway, Little Rock.

Pianist Karen Walwyn will solo in the Piano Concerto in One Movement by Florence Price; the concert will open with Festive Overture by William Grant Still. Andrew Grams, music director of the Elgin (Ill.) Symphony Orchestra, will be the guest conductor.

“Beethoven & Blue Jeans”

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Robinson Center Performance Hall, Little Rock

What: Karen Walwyn, piano; guest conductor Andrew Grams. William Grant Still: Festive Overture; Florence Price: Piano Concerto in One Movement; Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, op.55, “Eroica.” “Symphony Local,” a street party with free bratwursts and for-sale beer from Stone’s Throw Brewery, two hours before each “curtain” on West Markham Street in front of the hall, open to all ticket holders.

Tickets: $16-$70, $10 for students and active duty military, free to the Sunday matinee for K-12 students with paying adult.

Information: (501) 666-1761, Extension 1

Ludwig van Beethoven
Florence B. Price

Price, born in Little Rock in 1887, was the first female black composer to garner a national reputation and to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra, but her music faded from view after her death in 1953 in Chicago. The recent discovery of nearly 30 boxes of manuscripts and papers in what had been Price's abandoned summer home, including her Fourth Symphony, composed in 1945, has sparked a revival. The Fort Smith Symphony and conductor John Jeter have recently completed recording all four Price symphonies.

The concerto on this program had its premiere in 1934 with Price as the soloist, but according to Don Anderson's program notes for the Arkansas Symphony, there is no evidence of it being performed since the 1930s and the manuscript of the orchestral score has disappeared. Composer Trevor Weston subsequently reconstructed the orchestration.

William Grant Still

Still was the first black male composer to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra — the Rochester (N.Y.) Philharmonic premiered his Symphony No. 1 in 1931 — and the first black composer to have an opera performed by a major company (the New York City Opera staged his Troubled Island in 1949). Unlike Price, many of his works — eight operas, five symphonies, ballets, concert suites and choral and incidental music — have steadily remained in the repertoire. He composed the Festive Overture in 1944; it won first prize in a contest sponsored by the Cincinnati Symphony.

Walwyn recently was the soloist in the premiere recording of the Price concerto. She has also recorded two volumes of music by American composers, titled Dark Fires. She's on the faculty at Howard University in Washington.

Conductor Andrew Grams

Grams has conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Dallas Symphony and the Houston Symphony; in Canada, the Toronto Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Vancouver Symphony and the National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa.

"Symphony Local," a pre-concert street party with free bratwursts and for-sale beer from Stone's Throw Brewery, takes place two hours before "curtain" on West Markham Street in front of the hall, open to all ticket holders. The Arkansas Food Bank will collect nonperishable food donations (take 10 items or more and get a voucher good for two ASO tickets).

Weekend on 11/07/2019

Print Headline: Arkansans in 'Blue Jeans': Works of two pioneering black composers and Beethoven included in casual concert


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