Home Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra celebrates Black History Month

Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra celebrates Black History Month


The Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Dr. Peter Wilson, continues its 2013-2014 season on Saturday, Feb. 22, and Sunday, Feb. 23.

WSO Picture Lise Keiter newTitled “Women of the American Symphonic Landscape,” this concert features music written by American Women, and especially Florence Price and her Piano Concerto in One Movement with  piano soloist Dr. Lise Keiter. The program also  includes Higdon’s blue cathedrals and  Symphony in E Minor, “Gaelic,” by Amy Beach

In recognition of Black History Month, Dr. Lise Keiter’s playing of Price’s piano concerto will be preceded by a short talk by Morris Phibbs, the Deputy Director of the Center for Black Music Research.  Florence Price (1887- 1953), is considered the first black woman in the United States to be recognized as a symphonic composer. Mr. Phibbs will discuss Mrs. Price and the painstaking research required to reconstruct this important piece of Black history.

Concert dates are: Saturday, February 22nd, 7:30 PM   at Staunton’s First Presbyterian Church and Sunday, February 23rd, 3:00 PM  at Waynesboro’s First Presbyterian  Church. No tickets are required for these FREE concerts, however, contributions are gratefully accepted.  For more details, visit www.WSOMusic.org

Contact:      Anne Seaton    [email protected]   540-241-2683(cell)

Additional information

Pianist Lise Keiter is active as a solo recitalist, collaborative artist, and soloist with orchestra, and her performances have taken her throughout the U.S. and to Europe.  Her latest European appearances include recitals with France’s International Roussel Festival, as well as with the Internationale Academie de Musique in Gargenville, France.  She is delighted to be returning to perform with the Waynesboro Symphony this season and has also recently appeared with orchestras in Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina.  Some of her other recent concert engagements have taken her to Wisconsin, Idaho, West Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, South Carolina, and throughout Virginia.

A versatile musician with a wide range of interests, Dr. Keiter is especially drawn to the music of female composers, often featuring works by women in her performances.  She is in demand for her expertise in the subject and has given numerous recitals and lectures throughout the United States.  She has long been interested in the Piano Concerto of Florence B. Price and is excited to be collaborating with Maestro Peter Wilson and the Waynesboro Symphony, along with Morris Phibbs of the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago, in these performances of this important, recently-reconstructed work.  Dr. Keiter is on the faculty at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, where she currently serves as Music Department Chair.


Morris Phibbs

Morris Phibbs is Deputy Director of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago, where he has worked since 1989. In addition to doing development and fundraising for the Center, he has produced conferences on black music research throughout the U.S. and in Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago, and has produced four critically acclaimed performance ensembles, including the Black Music Repertory Ensemble, Ensemble Kalinda Chicago, Ensemble Stop-Time, and the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble.  In 2010 Phibbs designed and supervised the extended research project that led to the recreation of the musical score for Florence Price’s Concerto in One Movement in D Minor.


Phibbs, a native of Bridgewater, VA, received his undergraduate degree in music from Bridgewater College, earned a masters degree in music history and literature from West Virginia University, and did substantial doctoral work toward a degree in choral literature and conducting from the University of Colorado. In  1989,he relocated to Chicago to join the staff of the Center for Black Music Research. He has held a number of minister of music and director of vocal and handbell choirs in Colorado and Illinois and serves as a music panelist for the Illinois Arts Council.


Music Director, Dr. Peter Wilson is an engaging and multifaceted American violinist and conductor whose musicianship has been noted as “first-class” by The Washington Post. He currently serves as Music Director of the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, was recently appointed Music Director of the Richmond Philharmonic and has conducted the National Symphony Orchestra as well as the National Gallery Orchestra. Highly respected throughout our Nation’s Capital, he has served as a violinist of The White House for two decades and is an active chamber musician, concertmaster, recording artist, and performance clinician throughout the united states.


More detail on Florence Price:

Her name was Florence Beatrice Price. Born in Little Rock, Ark., in 1887, she performed at a piano recital at age 4, published her first work at 11 and enrolled in the New England Conservatory of Music at 16. Though she left Little Rock for Chicago around 1927, she could not escape the smoldering vestiges of the de facto apartheid that had inspired her very flight. Even in Chicago, few were the opportunities for classical composers of her persuasion.

But in 1932 Price won a prestigious prize for symphonic composition, and the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Frederick Stock, took note. Stock encouraged her to write a piano concerto and the following year he presented Price’s Symphony in E minor at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair—the first time that a major American orchestra performed a symphony written by a black woman.

Florence Price (née Smith) April 9, 1887, Little Rock, Arkansas – June 3, 1953, is considered the first black woman in the United States to be recognized as a symphonic composer.



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