Florence Comes Home A Chamber Opera Celebrating 20th Century African American Composer Florence Beatrice Price World Premiere Performances September 16-20, 2019 at: Pine Street Inn Women's Inn, CASPAR Emergency Shelter, Pine Street Inn Stabilization Center, Pine Street Inn Shattuck Shelter, Dimock Center Ilene Beal Concerts for Women, Dimock Center Men's Recovery Programs, and October 17, 2019 atThe Dane Estate. This final concert was open to the public.
How many African American women composers can most classical music lovers name?
Florence Beatrice Price (1887-1953) was a brilliant, prize-winning, New England Conservatory-trained composer who wrote more than 300 works, including orchestral, chamber, piano and organ music, and choral and solo vocal compositions. She was the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra. Happily, musicians and audiences are now rediscovering her creative work, long left languishing. What more might have been her successes, and how much more celebrated might she have been if she wasn’t an African American woman facing the Jim Crow eraand deep hardships as a single mother?
To begin with I have two handicaps— those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins. -Florence Price to Serge Koussevitzky, 1943
Shelter Music Boston commissioned this chamber opera to tell Florence Price's story. Florence Comes Home, by Francine Trester, scored for soprano, mezzo soprano, baritone, and string quartet was performed in concert version.
Like so many of our audience members, Florence Price faced overwhelming obstacles - poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, single motherhood, and more. Her musical voice was unique; our audiences were movedby this story and the music that conveys it.
The unique mission of Shelter Music Boston is appropriate to inspire homeless and recovering individuals with Florence Price's story. SMB performs 80 to 90 classical music concerts annually in Greater Boston homeless shelters,recovery centers, and in an after-school program for children affected by homelessness. We believe thatall people deserve access to the dignity, creativity, and passion of music, and that among the homeless individuals of our communitythere are other Florence Prices with much to offer.
Photo collage reprinted with permission from Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville