A classroom exploration and discovery led students to create an illustrated biography of a composer whose music is being widely celebrated around the world today. Their book Who is Florence Price? will be published by Schirmer Trade Books, part of Wise Music Group, on November 18th 2021.
Florence Price became the first Black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her Symphony No. 1 in 1933. The new children’s book Who Is Florence Price? tells the story of a brilliant musician who prevailed against race and gender prejudices to achieve this important milestone. The book was written and illustrated by 45 middle school students at Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School, New York City’s only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject. The project began when English teacher Shannon Potts realized that there were no materials about Price’s life at the lower school reading level. The students studied Price’s biography and mapped out her life story on a wall, discussing which elements were most important to the narrative for their intended audience: children at approximately the third-grade reading level. After collaboratively writing and revising the text, the students created the illustrations, beginning with backgrounds of cut paper. The book was originally self-published as a classroom project shortly before the pandemic shut down NYC in the spring of 2020 and has been revised for the 2021 release.
Kaufman Music Center’s Executive Director Kate Sheeran says, “We’re so proud of our Special Music School students for taking the initiative to create this book, which is a beautiful example of what can happen when we remove barriers to music education. A comprehensive music education from the earliest grades opens doors and helps children make connections between disciplines.”
“Who is Florence Price? is a very special project for Wise Music Group,” says Robert Thompson, President of their Schirmer Books division. “It celebrates the power of storytelling and the benefits of early music education, while championing the life of a pioneering composer. We are especially proud of this release, since all book proceeds will go right back to Special Music School, to support its important music program.”
Who Is Florence Price? includes a foreword by the acclaimed composer, violinist and educator Jessie Montgomery, recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation and the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and Mead Composer-in-Residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a three-year appointment that concludes at the close of the 2023-2024 season.
Jessie Montgomery says, “This book represents a snapshot into the beautiful minds of children when they are given a chance to fully investigate their history and interests. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect is how the writers were able to recognize the complex social context of Price’s life, diving into the core issues of racial and gender discrimination she faced while pursuing her passion for music.”
“In classical music there isn’t a lot of diversity, and being a woman of color myself, it’s inspiring to see somebody who’s made it out there,” says 14-year-old violinist and co-author Rebecca Beato. “I think it’s important to learn about Florence Price’s music and share it with the world. And it’s especially important to share the message with younger generations.”
A special Who is Florence Price? book launch and concert will take place at Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center on November 18th at 11:00 am ET. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this invitation-only event.
For media inquiries, please contact Bobbi Marcus, email@example.com
For more information about the Price catalog, please contact your local Wise Music Promotion Team. See Contact Us.