U of A Releases First Ever Recordings of Florence Price's Choral Music

Florence Price
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Florence Price

Hill Records, the student-run record label at the U of A, is proud to announce the release of Wander-Thirst: The Choral Music of Florence Price, now available on SpotifyApple Music and all other streaming services.  

Florence Price, a native Arkansan, was the first African American woman to achieve national recognition for her accomplishments as a symphonic composer.  

“Though nearly 70 years after her death, her music is finally taking its rightful spot in the pantheon of American music. We are excited to be a part of that,” said Stephen Caldwell, director of U of A’s Schola Cantorum, which recorded the album with Hill Records.  

The album features several world premiere recordings of works from Price, which were preserved in the Florence Beatrice Smith Price Collection housed in the Special Collections department of the University of Arkansas Libraries. 

“As we reexamine the contributions of historically marginalized composers from American history, Price’s music shines just as brightly as her contemporaries who worked to extinguish that light,” Caldwell added.   

Born in Little Rock, Florence Price showed great talent at a young age. She was published at 11 years old and graduated high school at 14 as valedictorian. After studies at the New England Conservatory, she had a brief career as a music teacher and college professor in Arkansas and Georgia before ultimately settling in Chicago.  

She became the first Black woman to have a work performed by a major American orchestra when her Symphony in E minor won the coveted Wanamaker Prize in 1932, leading to a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  

The Florence Price archive began in 1974 when Price’s daughter donated the materials she had to the U of A. Many of her works were assumed lost. However, in 2008 during the renovation of a home outside Chicago, a trove of works was discovered, many of which had not yet been performed or published.  

The U of A acquired the works in 2014 and added them to the existing collection. Wander-Thirst: The Choral Music of Florence Price marks the first recording of many of these recovered works. 

The album features a range of compositions, highlighting Price’s versatility and genius as a composer. Secular octavos such as "Weathers" and the title track, "Wander-Thirst," show her mastery of choral part writing.  

Additionally, "Resignation" shows her deep connection to the African American spiritual, and the "Presbyterian Communion Service in F" demonstrates her understanding of liturgical form. 

“We at Hill Records are thrilled to be able to work with Schola Cantorum and Dr. Caldwell to bring Florence Price’s beautiful compositions to the public,” said Amy Whiteside, president of Hill Records. “To participate in a project like this is such an honor.”  

About Hill Records: Hill Records is a student-run record label and entertainment project at the University of Arkansas. This cutting-edge initiative combines music industry pedagogy, entrepreneurial learning, and audio research into integrated, cross-disciplinary experiences.  

About the University of Arkansas Schola Cantorum: The University of Arkansas Schola Cantorum has a long and illustrious history that spans more than 50 years and includes performances for President Kennedy, appearances on national television, and concerts in some of the world’s great venues. The choir tours nationally and internationally, giving approximately 10 concerts each academic year and performing choral masterworks spanning 1,000 years of the choral canon. Membership is highly selective but includes undergraduate and graduate students from every college on campus and represents more than 20 majors. 

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research and Economic Development News.

Contacts

Stephen Caldwell, Schola Cantorum director
Department of Music
479-575-4701, stephenc@uark.edu

Amy Whiteside, president of Hill Records
Department of Music
479-575-4701, arwhites@uark.edu

Jake Hertzog, Hill Records faculty advisor
Department of Music
479-575-4701, jhertzog@uark.edu

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