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Inside the Music

Juba Dance from Price's Symphony No. 1

The Minnesota Orchestra performed the Juba Dance from American composer Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1 at Young People’s Concerts in May of 2019—now, on April 9, they perform a different Juba by Price, the third movement from her Third Symphony. These movements take their name from an African dance popularized in America by Black performers such as Master Juba and danced by enslaved people of African descent on some Southern plantations that involves stomping and clapping—its descendants in this country include ragtime and cakewalk. This movement of Price’s Symphony No. 3 is just one example of the folk tune-inspired music the Orchestra performs April 9 as part of Music Around the Globe, a one-hour Relaxed Family Concert conducted by Chia-Hsuan Lin.

Florence Price & African American Folk Music

American composer Florence Price achieved renown in the 1930s along with her contemporaries William Grant Still and William Dawson; collectively, they are the principal classical music figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Although Price was the best-known female African American composer in the U.S. from 1930 to 1950, her work fell into obscurity after her death, in part because many of her compositions were thought lost. A trove of manuscripts surfaced in 1980, helping to draw attention to Price’s achievements. Today, her music is getting a considerable amount of well-deserved attention. Her First Symphony has an especially proud history: it was the first symphony by an African American woman to be performed by a major American orchestra.

Price’s music, which is featured as part of our family and sensory-friendly concert Music Around the Globe, draws heavily upon the idioms of African American folk music. Price specifically sought to affirm Black cultural heritage in much of her music, as her biographer Rae Linda Brown has noted: “Her primary goal...was to feature [African American] folk materials: spiritual-like themes, characteristic dance music, cross-rhythms, call-and-response organizational procedures, dominance of a percussive, polyrhythmic approach to music, off-beat phrasing of melodic accents, and the inclusion of environmental factors such as hand-clapping and foot-tapping.”

What to Expect at a Relaxed Family Concert

In addition to the Juba movement from Price’s Symphony No. 3, this Music Around the Globe concert features folk-inspired music from around the world. With host G. Phillip Shoultz leading the way,  concert-goers will hear selections with roots in China, Mexico, Norway, Romania, Russia, Syria and the United States.

Minnesota Orchestra Relaxed Family Concerts are the perfect introduction for all young concert-goers, including individuals on the autism spectrum and those with sensory sensitivities. The event begins with pre-concert activities that include opportunities to try an instrument, meet a Minnesota Orchestra musician, make art and more. Sensory aids, hearing protection and quiet spaces will be available. Social stories, pre-concert tip sheet and more information are available here.

We hope to see you there!