A Poet of Words and Music

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We don’t hear the name Agustin Barrios (1884-1944) much today, but in his home country of Paraguay – and in certain guitar circles – he is still revered. Guitarist John Williams once said of Barrios “…is the best of the lot, regardless of era. His music is better formed, it’s more poetic, it’s more everything!” Barrios dedicated his life to both music and poetry. He composed over 300 individual compositions. During his travels throughout South America, Barrios would sign copieds of this poems and give them to anyone who wanted one. Collectors warn that the originals are difficult to authenicate.

Barrios’ music fell into three major categories: imitative, folk and religious. Many musicians consider his work call “La Catedral” his greatest composition. Barrios played parts of it to Andres Segovia and Segovia was entranced by it. He called it “… ideal for the repertory of any concert guitarist.”

Our Guitar Picks this week:

Agustin Barrios – Waltz No. 3 – Alexander-Sergei Ramírez
Antonio Vivaldi – Guitar Concerto, RV93 – John Williams
Joseph Haydn/Francois de Fossa – Grand Duo Op.9/5 – Castellani-Andriaccio Duo
JS Bach – Prelude, Fugue and Allegro for Lute in E flat major, BWV 998 – David Lippel
Manuel de Falla – Danza del Molinero – Miloš Karadaglić

My ukulele pick this week is my friend Ken Middleton’s version of a Bob Dylan classic:

Nature and Music

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This week we’re learning all about music and nature.

 Join us for our free event on the Waterfront’s Harbor Lawn!

Rescheduled to AUGUST 1st 6 – 10 p.m. due to rain!

Kites and Classical

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Kite Building with KMAC, picnic food and drinks for sale from Wiltshire Pantry, and beautiful music from Classical 90.5 to accompany the sun setting over the Ohio!

Audio for Kids! 

Listen to our 3-part series: Wilderness Music

 

Check out more audio and resources at wuol.org/wildernessmusic

 

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Where The Wild Things Are

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A Classical 90.5 Original

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Narrator: Lucas Adams of Stage One Family Theater

Music: Overture to Don Giovanni – Capella Istropolitana conducted by Barry Wordsworth

Produced by Sara Soltau

used with permission of Harper Collins Publishers

 

Come see a film screening of the Children’s Opera Where the Wild Things Are, libretto by Maurice Sendak and music by Oliver Knussen, Saturday July 23rd at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. We will have kid’s crafts and a puppet meet and greet in the lobby and at 1:00 p.m. with the opera and a live performance of Ferdinand the Bull at 2:00 p.m. We’re also teaming up with Squallis Puppeteers to premiere a new show of the classic children’s book Ferdinand!

Here’s a sneak peak:

 

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Share Your Story Winners!

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Listen to Hadley Thompson and Mackenzie Berry below:

visit wuol.org/shareyourstory for details

Hadley Thompson’s story is inspired by Hector Berlioz’s “March to the Scaffold” from Symphonie Fantistique, James Levine conducts the Berlin Philharmonic.

Hadley is a 7th grader at Hazelwood Middle School in New Albany, IN

 

Florence Price

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On June 15, 1933, Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered Florence Price’s Symphony in E Minor in front of a packed house at the Auditorium Theatre. That night Price became the first African American woman to earn such a distinguished premiere. In a certain sense, the event mirrored Jackie Robinson’s heroic Major League debut fourteen years later. Like Robinson, Price’s talent far exceeded many of her more successful white contemporaries, whose presence in the “big leagues” was never questioned.

Jackie Robinson’s name and achievements are widely appreciated, and rightly so. But most classical music lovers probably know little if anything about Price. Her music is still essentially unheard. How could such an accomplished musician fall into obscurity?

Price first entered the “mainstream” of American classical music when, at the age of sixteen, she enrolled at Boston’s New England Conservatory as one of only three black students. There she studied with the school’s best teachers, including director George Whitefield Chadwick (1854–1931). The conservatory awarded her diplomas in two distinct courses of study: organ and piano pedagogy—a truly rare accomplishment.

Price continued to succeed during her mature career as a composer. Her pioneering symphony, won the prestigious Rodman Wanamaker prize in 1932. The award caught Stock’s attention and led him to premiere the work. Contralto Marian Anderson (1897–1993) sang Price’s arrangement of the spiritual “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” at her defiant Easter recital on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 and continued to champion Price’s music for decades.

But Price faced steep hurdles in the 1940s. With Stock’s passing in 1942, she lost a key ally. Hoping to secure another prestigious venue for her orchestral music, the following year she contacted Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky about performing some of her works. Even after she wrote him several letters, he never offered anything more than a curt reply. Though difficult to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, such tacit racism and sexism has plagued classical musicians for centuries and in this case stalled Price’s career.

Even so, Price continued to write prolifically until her untimely death in 1953. Most of her major works draw inspiration in some way from African American folk music and dance. Several pieces quote spirituals, for example, while others incorporate rhythms from a slave dance called the “juba.” Price also wrote abstract music in a modernist idiom, but her full stylistic range has largely remained inaccessible and unanalyzed since much of her music was long considered lost.

In 2009, an Illinois couple found the music after purchasing an abandoned house once owned by Price’s family. With the aid of librarians who assessed the manuscript collection, the couple eventually sent the music to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Now that Price’s music has been found and is available for study, we can hope that it will be heard—in some cases for the first time—and will lay the foundation for an enduring legacy.

 

Douglas Shadle is an Assistant Professor of Musicology at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise (Oxford, 2016) and is currently writing a new book on Antonín Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony. In May of 2016 he spent two weeks in Fayetteville, Arkansas studying Florence Price’s life and music.

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