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Internationally recognized pianist Michelle Cann will be featured on Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement. Florence was the first black woman to have a work performed by an American orchestra. On this concert, Price’s concerto will be played alongside works by Franck, Strauss, and the ever-popular Tchaikovsky.
Le casseur maudit (The Accursed Huntsman)……………..Franck
Piano Concerto in One Movement………………………………….Florence Price
Burlesque for Piano and Orchestra TrV 145………………….Strauss
Francesa da Rimini, Op. 32……………………………………………..Tchaikovsky
A champion of the music of Florence Price, Michelle Cann performed the New York City premiere of the composer’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in July 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra in February 2021, which the Philadelphia Inquirer called “exquisite.”
Highlights of her 2021–22 season include debut performances with the Atlanta, Detroit, and St. Louis symphony orchestras, as well as her Canadian concert debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. She also receives the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, and the 2022 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. Embracing a dual role as both performer and pedagogue, her season includes teaching residencies at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the National Conference of the Music Teachers National Association.
Ms. Cann regularly appears in solo and chamber recitals throughout the U.S., China, and South Korea. Notable venues include the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Beijing), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), and the Barbican (London). She has also appeared as cohost and collaborative pianist with NPR’s From The Top.
An award winner at top international competitions, in 2019 she served as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s MAC Music Innovator in recognition of her role as an African-American classical musician who embodies artistry, innovation, and a commitment to education and community engagement.
Ms. Cann studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, where she holds the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies.
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887, Florence Beatrice (Smith) Price, won first prize in the Wanamaker Competition with her Symphony in E minor and as a result, became the first female composer of African descent to have a symphonic work performed by a major national symphony orchestra.
Music Director Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played the world premiere of her Symphony No. 1 in E minor on June 15, 1933, on one of four concerts presented at The Auditorium Theatre from June 14 through June 17 during Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition. The historic June 15th concert entitled “The Negro in Music” also included works by Harry T. Burleigh, Roland Hayes, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and John Alden Carpenter performed by Margaret A. Bonds, pianist and tenor Roland Hayes with the orchestra. Florence Price’s symphony had come to the attention of Stock when it won first prize in the prestigious Wanamaker Competition held the previous year.
Although this premiere brought instant recognition and fame to Florence Beatrice Price, success as a composer was not to be hers. She would “continue to wage an uphill battle – a battle much larger than any war that pure talent and musical skill could win. It was a battle in which the nation was embroiled – a dangerous mélange of segregation, Jim Crow laws, entrenched racism, and sexism.” (Women’s Voices for Change, March 8, 2013). The same fate would also befall fellow Arkansan William Grant Still, the “Dean of Black Composers” (whose Afro-American Symphony was performed by the Rochester Philharmonic Symphony under Howard Hanson, the first time in history that a major American orchestra had played a symphonic work by a black composer) and many others due to rampant endemic and systemic racism.