UA Little Rock concert to honor Arkansas musical legends

Linda Holzer

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will host a special concert Sunday, Oct. 20, to honor two famous Arkansas musicians: Florence Price and William Grant Still.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 3 p.m. in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in the UA Little Rock Fine Arts Building. 

Dr. Linda Holzer, coordinator of classical piano studies at UA Little Rock, will serve as featured pianist. An active soloist and chamber musician, Holzer has performed in concert in 30 states and abroad in Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, and mainland China. 

Holzer will be joined by four members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, including Sandra McDonald and Leanne Day-Simpson, violin; Katherine Reynolds, viola; and Rafael León, cello. 

The program celebrates the lives and legacy of distinguished composers Price and  Still, who grew up together in Little Rock, and went on to achieve international reputations for their artistry.  

The concert features the tender harmonies of “Summerland,” and the piano suite “In the Land ‘o Cotton,” as well as the dramatically powerful “Fantasie Negre.” The program will also include a preview of Price’s masterful Piano Quintet in A Minor.  

Price is a Little Rock native who became the first African-American woman composer to have a symphonic composition performed by a major American orchestra and one of the first African-American classical composers to gain international attention. 

Still, born in Mississippi, moved in infancy to Little Rock with his mother after his father’s tragic death from typhoid. He graduated as valedictorian of M.W. Gibbs High School in 1911. During his successful musical career, Still earned two Guggenheim Fellowships and honorary doctorates from Oberlin College and Pepperdine University. 

The concert will introduce listeners to the composers in preparation for historic concerts by the Arkansas Symphony in November, when, for the first time, symphonic works by Price and Still will be featured on a Masterworks concert. 

For more information, contact Linda Holzer at 501-569-8436 or lrholzer@ualr.edu.

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