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Playing Florence Price’s Third Symphony, QUO Reclaims a Too-Little-Known Treasure
by Bruce-Michael Gelbert      |   follow us...

   
photo by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
Queer Urban Orchestra
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The featured work of the Queer Urban Orchestra’s (QUO) February 24 concert, at Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea, under the baton of Artistic Director Julie Desbordes, was Symphony Number Three in C minor, a too-little-known treasure, by the late Florence Price, the first African-American woman to achieve recognition as a symphonic composer. Price and QUO made a grand statement indeed in the opening Andante; Allegro movement, an apt start for a piece of reclaimed Americana. A sentimental-sounding Andante ma non troppo followed. The basis of the third movement Juba: Allegro was a spirited syncopated dance, derived, we are told, “from a traditional plantation slave dance, accompanied by highly rhythmic hand-clapping.” The powerful piece culminated in a jubilant Scherzo: Finale. This listener can’t wait to hear more of Price’s oeuvre.
QUO’s concert began with Emmanuel Chabrier’s popular “España,” a sunny evocation of Spain, with an infectious, sometimes sweeping melodic line and catchy rhythms.
Led by Assistant Conductor Ian Schafer, Aleksandr Glazunov’s Concerto in E-flat for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra, Opus 109, featured Brian Shaw as the virtuoso saxophonist, responsible for a haunting and incisive solo contribution. The heart of the concerto had a nocturnal feeling, thanks to the plangent sax and hushed strings, and the climax was a lively fugue.
QUO returns to Holy Apostles, 296 Ninth Avenue at 28th Street, on March 17 at 8 p.m. for a QUOtets Chamber Concert and plays children’s favorites and Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony Number Nine, “From the New World,” at Croton-Harmon High School on March 24 at 2:30 p.m. Visit www.queerurbanorchestra.org for further information.


 

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