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La Jolla Symphony To Perform ‘Found’ Concerto By African American Composer, Florence Price

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Photo credit: University of Arkansas libraries

Florence Price in an undated photo.

Who decides what compositions get called classical music and who picks what orchestras play and what they don’t? Those questions have swirled around the rediscovery of several concertos and symphonies by 20th-century composer Florence Price. She is known as one of the first African-American composers to win national attention back in the 1930s, but it turns out that some of her most sophisticated works were never performed and almost lost.

The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross wrote about the rediscovery of dozens of Price's musical scores in a dilapidated house in Illinois in 2009 by new owners Vicki and Darrell Gatwood.

"The couple got in touch with librarians at the University of Arkansas, which already had some of Price’s papers. Archivists realized, with excitement, that the collection contained dozens of Price scores that had been thought lost," Ross wrote.

Ross' article and another in The New York Times reignited interest in Price’s work, which has since been included in orchestral programs across the country including here in La Jolla. Her Violin Concerto No. 2 will be performed this Saturday by the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus.

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