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Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: Scenes in Tin Can Alley - Piano Music of Florence Price by Josh Tatsuo Cullen

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Cover of Josh Tatsuo Cullen CD, Scenes in Tin Can Alley: Piano Music of Florence Price

Thirteen years ago, Vicki and Darrell Gatwood bought an abandoned house in St. Anne, Illinois, and started to renovate it. While the house had great bones, it was in rough shape. A tree had fallen on it, ripping a hole in the roof, and the house had been vandalized. But as the Gatwoods began to work their way through the house, they made an extraordinary discovery: stacks of personal papers, books, and musical scores belonging to Florence Price. The Gatwoods did some research, and found that they had purchased Price’s summer home, and with it a treasure trove of Price’s legacy, including dozens of works long thought to be lost. That find began a renaissance of Price’s music, as musicians lined up to record these marvelous musical finds.

Enter pianist Josh Tatsuo Cullen, who selected several pieces from that 2009 discovery to record Scenes in Tin Can Alley. In the liner notes, he says, “I chose these works not only because they deserve to be heard, but because they spoke to me as an artist. As a person of mixed Japanese and European descent, I feel a strong connection to Price’s desire to honor and elevate the marginalized people of her own mixed-race heritage.”

The pieces cover a stylistic span, with musical portraits, compositions with a semblance of Schumann and Chopin, and even a bit of boogie-woogie. But more importantly, they are a musical testament to the artistry of Florence Price, whose music sat unplayed and unknown for too long in that Illinois house. It is a joy to bring them into the light.

A Strong Memorial baby and Greece Arcadia grad, Julia Figueras is the Music Director and mid-day host for WXXI-FM. She is also the producer and host for the award-winning monthly interview/performance show, Backstage Pass.