In honor of Black History Month, the recital "Songs by Florence Price and Robert Owens" features the voice students of Wendy Hillhouse performing works composed by these two groundbreaking Black composers. The songs being presented include poetry by Langston Hughes, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and others.
Robert Owens was an expatriate composer and concert pianist who relocated to Europe in the 1950s to freely pursue his music career. For over fifty years Mr. Owens resided in Munich, Germany. His song cycles were uniquely different, fashioned in the style of the German song cycle tradition of Franz Schubert, Hugo Wolf, and Johannes Brahms, while also incorporating American and African American influences.
Florence Price became the first black female composer to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played the world premiere of her Symphony No. 1 in E minor on June 15, 1933. Yet she would “continue to wage an uphill battle – a battle much larger than any war that pure talent and musical skill could win.” (Women’s Voices for Change, March 8, 2013). She would eventually compose more than 300 works, including symphonies, organ works, piano concertos, works for violin, arrangements of spirituals, art songs, and chamber works, and her music has been performed with increasing frequency in recent years.
Songs by Florence Price and Robert Owens can be viewed here during February 28-March 28.