Florence B. Price (1887-1953)
Minneapolis Star Tribune
March 16, 2018
The Minnesota Orchestra will kick off its next season with something still rare for symphony orchestras — a piece written by a woman.
At a time when critics and audiences are knocking the country’s top orchestras for programs devoid of women, the state’s symphony orchestra will perform five works by female composers during the 2018-19 subscription series announced Friday.
At this time last year, that number was zero.
“We are changing the conversation, internally,” said Kenneth Freed, a violist who co-chairs the orchestra’s artistic advisory committee. “We are still charged with Beethoven, Mahler and Dvorak. There’s no question: We’re not going to forsake that. This is a both/and proposition.”
Women wrote just 1.3 percent of the music performed by 85 major American orchestras during the 2016-17 season, a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra survey shows. But they penned 7 percent of the works so far announced for the Minnesota Orchestra’s flagship series next season.
There’s a symphony by Florence Price, who in 1933 became the first black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra. A piece that acclaimed Twin Cities composer Libby Larsen wrote for the Minnesota Orchestra in 1984: “Symphony: Water Music.” And, at the season’s start, “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman,” by pioneering composer Joan Tower.