MUSCATINE, Iowa–On Saturday March 12, the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage at Wesley United Methodist Church to present its fourth MasterWorks concert of the 2021-2022 performance season. MasterWorks IV: “New Introductions” will be introducing the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra audience to two female artists. One is an up and coming singer and the other, the first black female composer to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra.
The Symphony’s Howe Foundation Young Artist Competition auditions are held each year in January on the campus of Muscatine Community College, and each year, the talent of the competitors is spectacular. This year’s winner is Finley McVey. She is a high school senior and will be singing a wonderfully fun and charismatic work, “Il Bacio” (“The Kiss”) by Luigi Arditi. This piece is performed on concert stages around the world and it will be a treat to hear this competitor bring it to life right here in Muscatine.
The cornerstone to this month’s performance is the Symphony No. 1 by Florence Price. In 1933, the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra presented this work during Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition. This work is steeped in American folk music, spirituals, and church hymns.
Her works are conservative in style, adhering to the template established by Dvořák in his Ninth Symphony, the unavoidable “New World,” of 1893, a work inspired by the composer’s trip to Iowa.
Her uniquely American voice has begun to have a resurgence. In 2009, in St, Anne, Illinois, an abandoned house was to be renovated. The owners made a curious discovery: piles of musical manuscripts, books, personal papers, and other documents of Florence Price. The house had once been Price’s summer home. The owners of the home contacted the University of Arkansas and have returned Price’s music to a collection being curated by the university.
Looking ahead to the finale concert of the season, on April 23rd, the Muscatine Symphony will present Quad Cities’ music scene staple and internationally renowned pianist, Marian Lee. She will be performing the iconic and perhaps one of the most well-known concertos of the repertoire – Piano Concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky.