New Jersey Youth Symphony concert highlights African-American women composers

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Urban News Staff Reports

The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) recently hosted a concert at Princeton University featuring the works of African American women composers.

The concert took place on Jan. 26 at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium and featured works by classical composers Julia Perry and Florence Price.

Perry was a conductor, pianist and composer who combined European classical and neo-classical training with her African-American heritage. She took up teaching at Florida A&M University in 1967 and was also a visiting artist at Atlanta College. She composed several operas and music of orchestra, choir, piano and other ensembles.

Price is the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra. A composer, pianist, organist and music teacher, she was the head of the music department of what is now the historically Black Clark Atlanta University.

In 1932, Price won first prize with her Symphony in E minor, and third for her Piano Sonata, earning her a $500 prize. In 1933, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered the Symphony making Price’s piece the first composition by an African-American woman to be played by a major orchestra.

Go to whartonarts.org/njys/ for more information on the New Jersey Youth Symphony.

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