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Works by Price, Coleman & Montgomery

Works by Price, Coleman & Montgomery —Michelle Cann, piano; New York Youth Symphony/Michael Repper (Avie 2503)

After its release on April 8, 2022, the CD debuted on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart at Number 2. Featuring four works by three African American women composers – Florence Price, Valerie Coleman and Jessie Montgomery – the New York Youth Symphony’s first studio recording was made in the midst of the COVID pandemic in 2020. The logistics were masterminded by this year’s Grammy Award-winning classical producer Judith Sherman.  Two works are by Florence Price: Ethiopia's Shadow in America in its first recording by an American orchestra; and her Piano Concerto in One Movement, with soloist and Price champion Michelle Cann, in the premiere recording of the composer’s recently-discovered original orchestration. Also on the album are works by two of today’s most vibrant young composers. Valerie Coleman’s Umoja: Anthem of Unity (‘umoja’ is Swahili for ‘unity’, the first pricipal of Kwanzaa) originated as a song for women’s choir.  Coleman’s elaboration of it for orchestra is given its first recording here. Soul Force by NYYS alum Jessie Montgomery draws on Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, portraying in the composer’s words, “the notion of a voice that struggles to be heard beyond the shackles of oppression.”