Kaufman Music Center is to Publish Student-Created “Who is Florence Price?

By David Salazar

Kaufman Music Center is set to publish “Who is Florence Price?” a children’s book created by students with the goal of telling the story of Price’s life for lower school readers.

Price is the first Black woman composer to have her music performed by a major orchestra. The piece in question was her Symphony in E minor, which was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Price would go on to compose several other major pieces of music, including concertos, a Suite for String Instruments commissioned by Sir John Barbirolli, and several songs.

“Who is Florence Price?” was initiated by English teacher Shannon Potts who could not find any materials about Price’s life at the lower school reading level.

“The students studied Price’s biography and mapped out her life story on a wall, discussing which elements were most important to the narrative for their intended audience at the approximately third-grade level. After collaboratively writing and revising the text, the students created the illustrations, beginning with backgrounds of cut paper,” describes an official press release. The original plan was for the book to be self-published but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a major change to that agenda.

“The book definitely shows our passion for music and our passion for academics, and amalgamates all those things into this beautiful finished product. It’s an unbelievable feeling to see all the work we put into this as a final product that is tangible and that we’re all really proud of and love,” 14-year-old Caden Castro-Kudler, a percussionist and co-author ofWho Is Florence Price?,’ said in the press release.

The book will be launched on Nov. 18 at Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center. Audiences in attendance will see a number of special guests who will perform music by Price including her “Song for Snow,” “The Glory of the Day was on Her Face,” “Hold Fast to Dreams,” and the second movement of her String Quartet in A minor, among others.