Giving the Once-Lost Works of Florence Price Their Due

Feb 14, 2018

Little Rock-born composer Florence Price
Credit Monica Jordan of Paper & Wood Co.

Nearly lost works by Arkansas-born composer Florence Price (1887-1953) are being brought to modern ears this month thanks to efforts of  ​Er-Gene Kahng, violinist and music professor at the University of Arkansas.

Kahng was inspired to embark on a recording project of Price's violin concertos for a debut studio album when she discovered the manuscripts in the Florence Price Archives held in Special Collections at the University of Arkansas's Mullins Library. This week she performs the 2nd live with the Arkansas Philharmonic.

"As a musician, my first curiosity was, 'is there a recording I can consult?'" says Kahng. "Then I, of course, became aware that these concertos were unknown, and were previously thought lost."

Kahng's recording of Price's two violin concertos, released on the Albany label this month, opened a renewed interest in a composer described by The New Yorker's Alex Ross as "mentioned more often than she is heard."

Though recordings of Price's works are themselves rare, rarer still are live performances. Concertgoers in Northwest Arkansas have two this month. This weekend Kahng performs Price's 2nd violin concerto with the Arkansas Philharmonic and next week she plays from Price's rarely heard chamber works for strings and piano at a Trillium Salon Series concert inside the Great Hall of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Hear the entire interview with Kahng in the streaming link above.