Jan 31, 2022SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The San Francisco Symphony announces a new educational resource, Musical Heroes: Stories of African-American Composers—an exploration of the life, work, and impact of Florence Price (1887-1953), William Grant Still (1895-1978), and George Walker (1922-2018), intended for students in middle school and high school classrooms and above.
Hosted by San Francisco Symphony Resident Conductor of Engagement and Education Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, Musical Heroes: Stories of African-American Composers is a free, hour-long online resource available internationally. The video is divided into three chapters, each 12-15 minutes in length, focusing individually on Price, Still, and Walker, providing biographical information and historical context to their music. Each chapter is accompanied by a performance featuring San Francisco Symphony musicians—music from Price’s Five Folksongs in Counterpoint, Still’s Serenade, and Walker’s Lyric for Strings.
The Musical Heroes educational and performance videos are supplemented by a teacher’s guide with questions and related topics for classroom discussion—such as the Harlem Renaissance, operas by African-American composers, Jim Crow legislation, and the Civil Rights movement—and additional reading and recording recommendations to explore the composers and their music further.
“The music of these composers is currently experiencing a resurgence, and very rightly so,” says Bartholomew-Poyser. “Our goal for this series is for viewers to come away knowing the music of Florence Price, William Grant Still, and George Walker. We also want to elevate their stories, understand why they wrote the music that they wrote, and learn how these pieces we love came to exist. As students experience these composers as people—with unique personalities, situations, and challenges—they’ll come away informed and undoubtedly inspired by the music and the composers.”
Click here to watch Musical Heroes: Stories of African-American Composers and explore the accompanying suggested recordings, resources, and topics for classroom discussion.
San Francisco Symphony Education Programs
The San Francisco Symphony provides some of the most extensive education and community programs offered by any American orchestra. The Symphony’s free music education experiences engage students in grades 1-12 throughout the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Adventures in Music (AIM), one of the longest-running education programs of its kind in the country since its launch in 1988, serves every child in grades 1-5 in San Francisco’s public schools and engages more than 23,000 students annually. The Music and Mentors program supports SFUSD’s band and orchestra programs in grades 6-12 with professional musicians who coach students weekly and provides instrument supplies and concert tickets. More than 35,000 students throughout Northern California hear the Symphony each year through the Concerts for Kids program, which began in 1919. The Symphony’s online educational resources include Music Connects and a variety of digital programs that offer lessons and activities designed to support schools as well as promote music education at home.