Holzer to give lecture on historic Arkansas composers through Celebrate! Maya Project

Dr. Linda Holzer

Dr. Linda Holzer, professor of music at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will present a lecture-recital in honor of Arkansas composers Florence Price and William Grant Still. The free online presentation will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, via Zoom.

Holzer will participate in a new lecture series by the Celebrate! Maya Project. The Build A Better World Through the Arts & Literature lecture series, produced in partnership with the Arkansas Humanities Council, will include a musician, artist, historian and writer, and poet from diverse arts and literary backgrounds whose life journeys and contributions closely mirror Maya Angelou’s philosophy of community building through arts and literature.

“It’s important to me that Arkansans are aware of the incredible stature of these two composers, nationally and internationally,” Holzer said. “The Celebrate! Maya project has given me this opportunity to shine a spotlight on these great composers. We want to make Florence Price and William Grant Still household names in their native city. I would love to see the day when everyone in Arkansas knows who Florence Price and William Grant Still are.”

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 was one of the first African-American classical composers to gain international attention. After her first symphony received its world premiere by the Chicago Symphony, she was commissioned by Britain’s famed Sir John Barbirolli for orchestral work.

Composer Florence Price
Florence Price
William Still Grant
William Grant Still

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 conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other orchestras and earned two Guggenheim Fellowships and honorary doctorates from Oberlin College and Pepperdine University.

“Both Florence Price and William Grant Still lived through the terrible 1918 flu epidemic,” Holzer said. “They overcame and never stopped accomplishing impressive things, so we can all take a lesson from that. They are tremendous models and sources of inspiration to build a better world. They should be a point of pride for all Arkansans.”

The lecture will be archived for use as a lesson guide in Arkansas schools. All recorded documents will be saved to Celebrate! Maya Project and Arkansas Humanities Council archives and made available to the public. This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Visit this website to register for the lecture, and you will receive a Zoom link to the online event. Each lecture will include a question and answer session and discussion portion for attendees.

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