I have recently returned from Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, where I had the immense honour of working with talented friends and musicians Er-Gene Kahng (violin) and Ryan Cockerham (conductor, composer) on the premiere recordings of two Violin Concertos by Florence B. Price, African-American Composer, who lived and worked in the early twentieth century. Ryan and Er-Gene engaged the wonderful Janacek Philharmonic to be the orchestra for this disc, and I was acting as an extra pair of ears – being extra picky!
It was a very enjoyable project on many levels. Firstly – to know that we were bringing to life these works that had never even been performed, let alone recorded – this was very special, and something I can relate to as a composer. I know the resulting disc will be a very important documentation of not only American classical music from this era, but also a testament to this lady who experienced a lot of hardship and difficulty in her life.
Secondly, on a professional level, this was a great workout for my ears! Ryan often had me running around various sections of the orchestra, checking that notes were correct, pulling apart sections and building them up note-by-note until we could decipher problems. We also both learnt a lot about preparing orchestral parts and scores!
Ryan’s own work, Before It Was Golden, is also included on the disc, and was written as a complimentary work to the two concerti. It is due to be released later in the year – stay tuned.