New York Youth Symphony (CD)

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New York Youth Symphony (CD)

Composers: Florence Price, Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery
Artists: New York Youth Symphony
Conductor: Michael Repper
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Avie
Release Date: February 23, 2022

Amid the COVID pandemic, the remarkably resourceful personnel and musicians of the New York Youth Symphony, with Music Director Michael Repper, found a way to come together during a time of separation to make their debut recording. Featuring four works by three African American women composers – Florence Price, Valerie Coleman, and Jessie Montgomery – the orchestra’s first studio recording includes several premieres. 

Two recordings of works by Florence Price are firsts: Ethiopia’s Shadow in America is the first recording of the work by an American orchestra, and her Piano Concerto in One Movement, with soloist Michelle Cann, is the premiere recording of the composer’s newly-discovered original orchestration. Price’s compositional voice blends the African American folk songs and dances of her heritage with the central European Romantic tradition in which she was trained. 

Umoja – meaning “unity” in Swahili – by Grammy-nominated flutist, entrepreneur and composer Valerie Coleman, originated as a simple song for women’s choir. Its transformation as a work for orchestra maintains its feel of a drum circle and sharing of history through a traditional “call and response” form.

Montgomery's Soul Force draws on Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

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Music Notes

Most Western music is based on a system of notation that evolved around 1600 out of earlier practices. The starting point for any opera is the full score, which contains all individual voices and instruments arranged in a specific order on the page. The written music—representing the sounds a composer creates in his head—then comes to life performed by singers onstage and played by the orchestra.



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