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Michelle Cann and Florence Price

On Thursday, February 18, 2021, pianist Michelle Cann made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra, performing Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement.

A close friend to the Geneva Music Festival since 2018, Cann was invited to be a part of our 2020 virtual season, “A Musical Offering,” in which she and violinist and GMF founder Geoffrey Herd discussed Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement (1933), which she had previously performed for GMF audiences in 2018. You can revisit the discussion on our YouTube channel here. In previous Geneva Music Festival seasons, Cann has collaborated with other artists at GMF on works by Chausson and Clara Schumann in 2019 and in David Baker’s piano trio Roots II in 2018.

Having made her orchestral debut at age 14, Michelle Cann is known for her compelling performances, bringing the arts closer to the public as a musical storyteller. Richard Goode reviewed her performance by saying, “I have been deeply impressed by Michelle’s playing, its fine musical intelligence and emotional depth. She has the eloquence and authority of a born performer.” She has performed with the Florida Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Philarmonic, and many more. Cann is also an inspirational and dedicated educator. When invited to the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva in 2019, Cann eagerly agreed to share her passions with the youth. For years she has created opportunities for music education through children’s choruses, and as the inaugural fellow of ArtistYear at the Curtis Institute of Music, has worked with local community partners to bring arts to local Philadelphia communities where arts and music education is difficult to access.

Cann was also recently named to the Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she will continue to inspire students in the same environment where she was a student, a Community Artist fellow, and a collaborative staff pianist.

Her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra was live-streamed and will be available online for ticket holders on the Philadelphia Orchestra website. The concert was conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the Price Concerto was joined by Rossini’s Overture to La scala di seta and Schubert’s Symphony No. 4 (“Tragic”). You can view the performance here until Thursday, February 25, 2021.


ABOUT FLORENCE PRICE

Composer, educator, organist, and pianist Florence Price was born in Arkansas in 1897, and spent her life forging pathways in the Classical music field for herself and other female composers and composers of color. Her musical life became very active after moving to Chicago in the 1930s, as Price composed symphonies, concertos, songs for voice, and more. Her Symphony No. 1 in E-minor won the Rodman Wanamaker Prize in 1932, and was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, marking her as the first Black female composer to receive such an accomplishment. Composed a couple years after the symphony, the Concerto in One Movement incorporates African-American musical elements through rhythmic motives. This concerto highlights these techniques in three sections: Moderato, Adagio, and Allegretto.

More than half of her works (over 300 for piano, symphony orchestra, voice, organ, and other ensembles) were recently discovered in 2009 by Darrell and Vicki Gadwood. The Piano Concerto’s original manuscript was only rediscovered in 2019, and Michelle Cann’s performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra is the first time the piece will be performed in its original scoring since the 1930s. 

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