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Catalyst Quartet Releases UNCOVERED Vol. 2: Florence B. Price, Feat. Four World Premiere Recordings

December 16, 2021 | By Katy Salomon
Account Director, Morahan Arts and Media

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PR Contact:
 Katy Salomon | Morahan Arts and Media
katy@morahanartsandmedia.com | 863.660.2214

Catalyst Quartet Releases
Florence B. Price

Featuring Four World Premiere Recordings
Among the Six Known Chamber Works by
Price, Performed with Pianist Michelle Cann,
Recipient of the 2021 Price Award 

Out February 4, 2022 on Azica Records
Review Downloads Available Upon Request

"The Catalyst Quartet creates a palpable sense of fresh discovery, of musical joy in the process of bringing these neglected scores to life." – The Strad

“You and I could go to chamber concerts for years and never hear a program as full of surprises and discovery as this one. And we’ve been missing out.” – San Francisco Chronicle


New York, NY (December 16, 2021) — On Friday, February 4, 2022, GRAMMY Award-winning Catalyst Quartet releases UNCOVERED Volume 2: Florence B. Price on Azica Records. The album is the second issue of a multi-volume anthology highlighting string quartet works by historically important Black composers which aims to bring greater awareness and programming of their music. Volume 2 is entirely devoted to the six known string quartet and piano quintet works of composer Florence B. Price – including four world premiere recordings – performed with pianist Michelle Cann, recipient of the 2021 Price Award.

The album consists of four string quartets, three of which have never been recorded, and two piano quintets, one of which has never been recorded, including Price’s Quintet in A minor for Piano and Strings; Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint for String Quartet; String Quartet in A minor; Five Folksongs in Counterpoint for String Quartet; and her unfinished String Quartet in G Major and Quintet for Piano and Strings.

In the words of the Catalyst Quartet, “Price faced extreme obstacles in her lifetime, however her compositional output is vast despite the many barriers placed in her path. The six works in UNCOVERED Vol. 2 highlight her most productive years and unique cultural identity. Her experience as a Black woman displaced because of the deep racism of the Jim Crow south; a wife and mother fleeing from an abusive husband; a prodigious organ student at the New England Conservatory; and as an important contributor to the great Chicago Renaissance between 1935 and 1950, where she associated with icons such as Langston Hughes, Marion Anderson, and Margaret Bonds; shaping her body of work while contributing authentically to American music in its depth and beauty. The works on this album are a powerful reminder that America’s romantic classical vernacular, as prophesied by Dvorak, owes an incredible amount to the voices history has overlooked and suppressed.”

UNCOVERED Vol. 1 featured the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with guest collaborators, pianist Stewart Goodyear and clarinetist Anthony McGill, and was released to critical acclaim in February 2021. Volume 3 and beyond will feature Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, and George Walker among others. The San Francisco Chronicle described the Catalyst Quartet’s live performance of the works from Vol. 1 as, “an evening of smart, arresting music by Black composers, executed with skill and panache. It’s really not as scary or disruptive an innovation as the resisters make it out to be. As part of its Uncovered project — an ambitious performance and recording initiative devoted to the work of six overlooked Black composers from the U.S., France and the U.K. – the ensemble performed a range of music that rarely, if ever, shows up on chamber programs… In addition to the immediate musical delights afforded by the recital, there was a larger political point clearly being made: The notion that the invisible hand of the classical tradition has successfully identified all the chamber music worth hearing – namely, the work of the usual big-name ‘greats’ – and that none of the rest of it measures up, isn’t simply wrong, it’s laughable. You and I could go to chamber concerts for years and never hear a program as full of surprises and discovery as this one. And we’ve been missing out.”

About the Catalyst Quartet
Hailed by The New York Times at its Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished… playing with earthy vigor,” the Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet was founded by the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Organization in 2010. The ensemble believes in the unity that can be achieved through music and imagines their programs and projects with this in mind, redefining and reimagining the classical music experience.

The Catalyst Quartet, known for “perfect ensemble unity” and “unequaled class of execution” (Lincoln Journal Star), has toured widely throughout the United States and abroad, including sold-out performances at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., at Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center, and Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall in New York. The quartet has appeared as soloists with the Cincinnati Symphony, New Haven Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, and has served as principal players and featured ensemble with the Sphinx Virtuosi on six national tours. It has been invited to perform at important music festivals such as Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Sitka Music Festival, Juneau Jazz and Classics, Strings Music Festival, and the Grand Canyon Music Festival, where it appears annually. The Catalyst Quartet was ensemble-in-residence at the Vail Dance Festival in 2016. In 2014, it opened the Festival del Sole in Napa, California with Joshua Bell and participated in England’s Aldeburgh Music Foundation String Quartet Residency with two performances in Jubilee Hall.

Recent seasons have brought international engagements in Russia, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, and expanded tours throughout the United States. The ensemble’s New York City presence has included concerts on the Café Series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, for Schneider Concerts at The New School, and six concerts with GRAMMY Award-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant for Jazz at Lincoln Center, for which the subsequent recording won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. The Catalyst Quartet launched its New York concert series, CQ@Howl, in 2018.

Highlights of upcoming collaborations include Encuentros, featuring a newly commissioned work by innovative Cuban composer Jorge Amado Molina and other voices from across the Cuban diaspora; (Im)migration: Music of Change, a collaboration with the Imani Winds; and CQ Minute, a commissioning project of 10 miniature string quartets in commemoration of the quartet’s 10th anniversary with works by Andy Akiho, Kishi Bashi, Billy Childs, Paquito D’Rivera, Tania Leon, Jessie Montgomery, Kevin Puts, Caroline Shaw, Joan Tower, and one young composer to be selected from a national call for scores. The Catalyst Quartet’s latest project is UNCOVERED, a multi-volume set of albums to be released on Azica Records. The initiative celebrates beautifully crafted works by artists who have been overlooked and sidelined in classical music, especially because of their race or gender. Volume 1, released February 2021, includes the string quartet and quintets of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Volume 2 will feature works by Florence Price and Volume 3 and beyond will feature Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, and George Walker, among others.

The Catalyst Quartet’s recordings span the ensemble’s scope of interests and artistry. Its debut album, The Bach/Gould Project, features the quartet’s own collaborative arrangement of J.S. Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations, the first ever 4-voiced version of the piece, paired with Glenn Gould’s rarely heard String Quartet Op. 1. The ensemble can also be heard on UNCOVERED Vol. 1: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with guest collaborators, pianist Stewart Goodyear and clarinetist Anthony McGill (Azica 2021); Strum (Azica 2015), the solo debut album of composer Jessie Montgomery, who was a member violinist from 2012-2020; Bandoneón y cuerdas (Progressive Sounds 2017), tango-inspired music for string quartet and bandoneon by JP Jofre; and Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue Records 2017), a 2-CD GRAMMY-winning album with Cecile McLorin Salvant.

The Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for contemporary works. The ensemble serves as principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Curtis Institute of Music. The Catalyst Quartet’s ongoing residencies include interactive performance presentations and workshops with Native American student composers at the Grand Canyon Music Festival and the Sphinx Organization’s Overture program, which delivers access to music education in Detroit and Flint, Michigan. Past residencies have included concerts and masterclasses at The University Of Michigan, University Of Washington, Rice University, Houston’s Society for the Performing Arts, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, The Virginia Arts Festival, and Pennsylvania State University, as well as internationally at the In Harmony Project in England, The University of South Africa, and The Teatro De Bellas Artes in Cali, Colombia. The ensemble’s residency in Havana, Cuba for the Cuban American Youth Orchestra in January 2019 was the first by an American string quartet since the revolution.

The Catalyst Quartet members hold degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard School, and New England Conservatory. The Catalyst Quartet proudly endorses Pirastro strings. Learn more at www.catalystquartet.com.

About Michelle Cann
Pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral debut at age fourteen and has since performed as a soloist with numerous ensembles including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, and the New Jersey Orchestra.

A champion of the music of Florence Price, Ms. Cann performed the New York City premiere of the composer’s Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in July 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in February 2021, which The Philadelphia Inquirer called “exquisite.” She has also performed Price’s works for solo piano and chamber ensemble for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, and the New World Symphony, among other presenters.

Ms. Cann regularly appears in recital and as a chamber musician throughout the U.S., China, and South Korea. Notable venues include the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Barbican in London with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also performs duo recitals with her sister, pianist Kimberly Cann; together their “sheer verve and evident passion is something to behold” (Mountain Xpress).

Ms. Cann has appeared as co-host and collaborative pianist with NPR’s From The Top, collaborating with actor/conductor Damon Gupton, violinist Leila Josefowicz, and violinist and MacArthur Fellow Vijay Gupta. She has also been featured on WRTI-FM and WHYY-TV in Philadelphia. Her summer festival appearances have included the Taos Chamber Music Festival, Yellow Barn, Perlman Music Program, Music Academy of the West, Geneva Music Festival, and Pianofest in the Hamptons, where she serves as artist in residence.

Ms. Cann has won top prizes in state, national, and international competitions including the International Russian Music Piano Competition, the Blount Slawson Young Artists Competition, and the Wideman International Piano Competition. In 2019 she served as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s MAC Music Innovator in recognition of her role as an African-American classical musician who embodies artistry, innovation, and a commitment to education and community engagement.

Ms. Cann manifests this commitment through her activities in Philadelphia and as part of touring engagements around the globe. She has served as the director of two children’s choruses in the El Sistema-inspired program Play On Philly and was among the first class of ArtistYear fellows at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she worked with community partners City Year, Teach for America, and AmeriCorps to provide arts education and access to underserved communities in Philadelphia. In 2019 she served on the faculty of the Sphinx Performance Academy during its inaugural year at the Juilliard School.

Ms. Cann holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Paul Schenly and Dr. Daniel Shapiro, and an Artist’s Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Robert McDonald. Ms. Cann served as a collaborative staff pianist at the Curtis Institute of Music for several years. She joined the faculty in 2020 as the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies. Learn more at www.michellecann.com.

UNCOVERED Vol. 2 Track List
Florence B. Price – Quintet in A minor for Piano and Strings
    1. I. Allegro non troppo [13:60]
     2. II. Andante con moto [6:16]
     3. III. Juba [3:47]
     4. IV. Scherzo [2:57]
Florence B. Price – Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint for String Quartet [World Premiere Recording]
     5. I. Go down Moses [5:15]
     6. II. Somebody’s knockin’ at yo do’ [4:30]
     7. III. Little David play on yo harp [1:39]
     8. IV. Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho [1:42]
Florence B. Price – String Quartet in A minor [World Premiere Recording]
     9. I. Moderato [15:08]
     10. II. Andante cantabile [6:32]
     11. III. Juba [4:25]
     12. IV. Finale [5:46]
Florence B. Price – Five Folksongs in Counterpoint for String Quartet
     13. I. Calvary [5:11]
     14. II. Oh my darlin’ Clementine [2:43]
     15. III. Drink to me only with thine eyes [4:47]
     16. IV. Shortnin’ bread [1:28]
     17. V. Swing low, sweet chariot [6:05]
Florence B. Price – String Quartet in G Major (Unfinished) [World Premiere Recording]
     18. I. Allegro [9:24]
     19. II. Andante moderato [6:52]
Florence B. Price – Quintet for Piano and Strings (Possibly Unfinished) [World Premiere Recording]
     20. Allegro moderato [3:30]
     21. Andante [3:03]
     22. Allegretto [2:05]

Producer and Recording Engineer: Alan Bise
Cover Image and Graphic Design: Louise Mandumbwa

Recorded in April and September 2021 at Drew University in Madison, NJ and Attucks Theater in Norfolk, VA

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