Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra performs Florence Price’s Piano Concerto
The Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, an organization of professional, amateur, and student musicians serving Waynesboro, Staunton, Charlottesville, and other Central Virginia Communities, gave two performances of Florence Price’s Concerto in One Movement (1934) on February 22 and 23, 2014. The performances, which were presented at First Presbyterian Church in Staunton, Virginia, and First Presbyterian Church in Waynesboro, Virginia, featured pianist Lise Keiter and were conducted by WSO Music Director Peter Wilson. Keiter had suggested that Wilson consider programming the Price concerto, to which he immediately agreed and then scheduled the work for a program titled “Women of the American Symphonic Landscape,” that, in addition to the Price work, featured Amy Marcy Cheney Beach’s Gaelic Symphony (1896) and Jennifer Higdon’s Blue Cathedral (2000). It was entirely serendipitous that the pairing for this performance of the Price concerto and the Beach symphony replicated the pairing of those works on the October 12, 1934, performance by the Woman’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago for Chicago’s Century of Progress Exhibition.
The original score and parts for the concerto have been lost since the 1940s, so in 2010 the CBMR commissioned composer Trevor Weston to recreate the score based on three different piano reductions and arrangements in manuscript that Price herself created for two- and three-piano performances. The recreated score received its premiere in February 2011 by the CBMR’s New Black Music Repertory Ensemble, which subsequently recorded the work for the Recorded Music of the African Diaspora series (Albany Records, TROY1295). The CBMR and WSO performances using the recreated score, were presumably only the first, second, and third performances of the concerto since its last documented performance in one of Price’s two-piano versions on February 11, 1947.
Pianist Lise Keiter has performed nationwide and is active as a solo recitalist, collaborative artist, and soloist with orchestra. She was a fellowship recipient to study at the Internationale Academie de Musique in Gargenville, France, and performed in the International Roussel Festival. Keiter is the chair of the music department at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, where she has developed an interest in the music of women composers, which has involved numerous recitals, lectures, and masterclasses throughout the United States.
Peter Wilson, a multifaceted violinist and conductor, is Music Director of the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of The Youth Orchestras of Fairfax in Northern Virginia, where he conducts its flagship ensemble, the United Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has performed as a violinist of the White House for over two decades and serves as String Section Commander for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Highly respected throughout the National Capital Region, he is Concertmaster of the American Festival Pops Orchestra and has conducted such renowned institutions as the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Gallery Orchestra.
CBMR Deputy Director Morris Phibbs was engaged to present a convocation lecture at Mary Baldwin College and to make presentations prior to each of the two performances of the Price concerto. While the pre-performance presentations were focused on Price and the concerto, the Mary Baldwin College convocation lecture was an historical survey of black composers from around the world, dating from the sixteenth through the twentieth century.