Tonight at 6 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center will play host to the premiere of the new documentary, The Caged Bird. Produced, written and edited by Dr. James Greeson, professor emeritus of music composition at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, The Caged Bird presents an in-depth look at the life and music of Florence Price, the first African American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony.
Born in Little Rock in 1887, Price and her family were the elite of black society or as historian Willard Gatewood referred to them, “Aristocrats of Color.” Through her travels, Price came into contact with some of the most influential African Americans in our nation’s history, including abolitionist Frederick Douglass, writer W.E.B. DuBois,one of the founders of the NAACP, author Langston Hughes and dancer Katherine Dunham. Price became a favorite composer of the great soprano Marian Anderson, whose 1939 concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was a seminal moment in the civil rights movement.
In 1933, the world-famous Chicago Symphony, consisting entirely of white men, premiered Price’s “Symphony in E minor” at the Chicago World’s Fair. Even today this would be a huge achievement for any composer; but during the era of segregation it was a unprecedented feat for a women, in particular an African American woman, to have her music presented on the world stage by a prestigious orchestra. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Dr. Greeson.
The Caged Bird is free and open to the public.
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is a program of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.