September 2018 – A historically significant piano concerto reconstructed by Drew University Music Professor Trevor Weston will be performed by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra this fall.
The Price Piano Concerto is featured in the orchestra’s Rhapsody in Blue & The Firebird program, which the orchestra will perform at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark (on Nov. 29, Nov. 30 and Dec. 2) and the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick (Dec. 1). Thanks to the Jake Stults C’01 Memorial Fund, about 30 of Weston’s Drew students will attend.
Weston, a composer, was commissioned in 2010 by the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago to reconstruct the orchestral score for the 1930s-era Piano Concerto in One Movement by Florence Beatrice Price. The first African-American woman whose work was performed by major orchestras, Price blended classical and popular styles in the concerto.
“The main point isn’t to orchestrate the piece to but orchestrate it in her voice,” Weston said of Price, who died in 1953. To do so, he listened to recordings of her other orchestral work. The task was challenging because portions of concerto score had been missing for decades. As Weston put it, “It’s almost like you’re taking someone’s play and you have the dialogue and the story, but you don’t know who’s saying what.” The piece also needed to be true to its era.
Weston’s work, which previously was performed in Chicago and New York, has been lauded for recapturing a piece of African-American musical history and staying true to Price’s voice. The upcoming concerts mark its debut in Weston’s home state. The professor, who grew up in Plainfield, described it as an “interesting homecoming.”