Aurea Ensemble: “I Hear America Singing”

Sunday, February 23, 2020

3:00pm - 6:00pm

Grant Recital Hall

The Brown University Department of Music is delighted to present Aurea Ensemble, one of New England’s most original and extraordinary chamber ensembles, in a performance of “I Hear America Singing.” This immersive concert blends selected works of Walt Whitman, music of iconic American composers – Florence Price, Amy Beach, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, and Brown University Professor of Music Eric Nathan – and the Rhode Island premiere of Francine Trester’s chamber opera, Florence Comes Home. The subject of Florence Comes Home is Florence Price, America’s first African American female composer to gain recognition as a symphonic composer. “I Hear America Singing” coincides with both Black History and Women’s History Months, the bicentennial of Walt Whitman, and the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and takes place on February 23, 2020, 3:00pm, Grant Recital Hall, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Brown University, Providence. Admission is free and open to the public.

This program is made possible through the generous support of The Sara and Robert A. Reichley Concert Fund and the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism. Francine Trester’s Florence Comes Home was commissioned by Shelter Music Boston.

After the concert

There will be a talk-back immediately following the concert, moderated by Christina Bevilacqua, Providence Public Library Director of Programming.


Brianna Robinson, soprano
Carrie Cheron, mezzo-soprano
Rashaun Campbell, baritone
Katherine Winterstein, violin
Mina Lavcheva, violin
Consuelo Sherba, viola
Emmanuel Feldman, cello
Chris Turner, harmonica/reader
Nigel Gore, reader

About the Program

Aurea’s “I Hear America Singing,” merges an homage to Walt Whitman’s 2019 bicentennial with the 2020 centennial commemoration of the passage of the 19th Amendment. This new Aurea program intersperses readings with harmonica improvisations, chamber music of Florence Price, Amy Beach, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Eric Nathan and the Rhode Island premiere of Francine Trester’s new chamber opera, Florence Comes Home, inspired by the life and music of African American composer, Florence Price.

The first half of the program draws from Whitman’s revolutionary “Leaves of Grass” and other writings, his eclectic musical sensibility, vision for an American artistic aesthetic and democracy in the face of the Civil War. The second half expands on Whitman’s aesthetic and democratic vision, illuminating the life and music of Florence Price (1888-1953), the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra. It features string quartet music of Price and the Rhode Island premiere of Boston based composer, Francine Trester’s Florence Comes Home, a twenty minute chamber opera, based on researched archives and the 2007 discovery of some of Price’s lost musical manuscripts and letters. The piece was given its Boston premiere in the fall, to high acclaim.

We have much to gain from listening to the magnanimous fervor of Whitman with fresh and critical ears. In light of Whitman’s bicentennial this year, his expansive vision and impact on American culture, we are also keenly aware of how much more encompassing that vision can be. The revelations of a newly discovered body of fine work by the early 20th century African American composer, Florence Price, have a particular poignancy as we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment in 2020. Following the inspirational arc of the program, it is very gratifying to conclude with contemporary Boston composer, Francine Trester’s operatic homage Florence Comes Home.