From Louisville with LOVE: On Oct 3, Louisville Orchestra & Music Director Teddy Abrams Launch Season of Innovation: Four Fall Programs Streaming Live in New “Louisville Orchestra Virtual Edition” (LOVE)
The Louisville Orchestra and its Music Director, Teddy Abrams, remain dedicated to serving the vibrant city where they make their home. Responding to the challenge of making music during the pandemic, in place of their previously announced fall offerings they look forward to presenting fouronline concerts – streaming live and then available for on-demand viewing – from Louisville’s newest venue, Paristown Hall. While each concert will be available for individual streaming, subscribers to the new “Louisville Orchestra Virtual Edition” (LOVE) will also receive access to additional online content, including music, conversations and curiosities particular to Louisville.
The series opens on Saturday, October 3 with “Beethoven’s Third,” a program combining the composer’s “Eroica” with Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst and works for voice and orchestra. “Charismatic bass-baritone” Davóne Tines (New York Times) joins the orchestra for Samuel Barber’s Dover Beach, two songs from Caroline Shaw’s By and By, and the orchestral premiere of Tines’s own composition VIGIL. Paying tribute to Louisville native Breonna Taylor, whose death has sparked an international outcry, VIGIL was created in collaboration with Dutch-French producer Igee Dieudonné, and arranged, on commission from the Louisville Orchestra, by Matthew Aucoin.
Also upcoming this fall are “Abrams Conducts Stravinsky,” a survey of the styles explored by one of the 20th century’s most protean and ingenious composers (Oct 24), and “America Sings: Copland’s Appalachian Spring,” showcasing legendary newgrass performer and Kentucky native Sam Bush (Nov 7). A fourth fall program, “American Soul,” presents arrangements of favorites by such soul legends as Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Ray Charles (Nov 21). In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday that follows, this program will be offered to the community free of charge. After streaming live, each performance will be available for on-demand viewing until December 31. Throughout the season, Abrams and the orchestra will also undertake numerous additional activities in the areas of education, wellness and community outreach, and will announce their plans shortly.
“I am very proud of my Louisville Orchestra family for uniting around a shared vision for what a musical institution can and should be at a time like this. Our season will be one of public service, focused exclusively on supporting our city as we confront the many challenges of this era. We have committed to three core values this year: improving the health of our community through music, providing exceptional music education to those that cannot afford it, and offering equal access to our music-making for everyone in Louisville. Our upcoming performances reflect these values, and they provide us with a chance to use our voice to heal and inspire our city when it needs us most.”
Inspired by the popular “farm box” system, by which consumers have fresh produce delivered to their doorsteps, the Louisville Orchestra Virtual Edition (LOVE) includes “locally grown” interviews, small ensemble performances, educational content and more, bringing audiences even closer to the musicians and their music director. The new digital series’ name tips its hat to First Edition, the famous contemporary music recording series that first put the young Louisville Orchestra on the international map.
Michelle Winters, Louisville Orchestra’s Director of Marketing, says:
“Launching the Louisville Orchestra’s online channel is an exciting leap forward when it comes to sharing the abundance of music available from the LO musicians. We now have a way to gather and perform for our community safely through this virtual medium until we can enjoy live music together again.”
Now in his seventh year as music director, Teddy Abrams has been justly praised for leading the orchestra to a prominent position in the cultural life of the city, as well as drawing national attention – including a profile on TV’s popular CBS Sunday Morning show – with the success of their risk-taking programming and community engagement. The orchestra was scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall in February 2021, which would have marked its first appearance there since 1989 and only its third to date. Although forced to cancel the concert, the orchestra has been invited to return to the iconic New York venue in a future season (details to be announced).
By bringing numerous new works to life in collaboration with local musicians from many genres, the Louisville Orchestra has expanded the idea of what orchestral concerts can be. Last fall, Decca Gold released The Order of Nature, offering songs by My Morning Jacket front man Jim James, arranged into an orchestral song cycle by Abrams himself. Hailed as a “magical collaboration” (NPR), the album was launched with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and went on to top both the U.S. Classical and Classical Crossover charts, receiving unanimously enthusiastic critical acclaim; the Associated Press marveled: “You’ve never heard anything quite like this. … [It’s] an album that is sonically magnificent.” Louisville rapper Jecorey Arthur starred in the title role of Abrams’s orchestral and vocal work The Greatest, a tribute to legendary boxer and Louisville native Muhammad Ali, and Kentucky-based pianist, composer and arranger Rachel Grimes has written music for – and performed with – the orchestra on multiple occasions. The Louisville Orchestra has also celebrated the talents of local artists and composers including Jeremy Beck, Jason Clayborn, Michael Cleveland, Tyrone Cotton, Gabriel Evens, Carly Johnson, Neil Rao and Joan Shelley. As mentioned above, Matthew Aucoin, Jessie Montgomery and Caroline Shaw – all featured in this fall’s programming – join the growing list of contemporary composers whose music is regularly performed by the orchestra. Recent seasons have featured premieres of works by Michael Gordon, James Lee III, Tyshawn Sorey and Julia Wolfe, among others.
About the Louisville Orchestra
Established in 1937 through the combined efforts of Louisville mayor Charles Farnsley and conductor Robert Whitney, the Louisville Orchestra is a cornerstone of the Louisville arts community. With the launch of First Edition Recordings in 1947, it became the first American orchestra to own a recording label. Six years later it received a Rockefeller grant of $500,000 to commission, record, and premiere music by living composers, thereby earning a place on the international circuit. In 2001, the Louisville Orchestra received the Leonard Bernstein Award for Excellence in Educational Programming, presented annually to a North American orchestra. In recognition of its continued commitment to new music, the Louisville Orchestra has won 19 ASCAP awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, as well as large grants from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the National Endowment for the Arts, both for the purpose of producing, manufacturing and marketing its historic First Edition Recordings collections. Over the years, the orchestra has performed for prestigious events at the White House, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall and on tour in Mexico City, and its last two albums for the Decca Gold label, All In (2017) and The Order of Nature (2019) – the latter launched with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – both topped the Billboard Classical and Crossover charts. The feature-length, Gramophone Award-winning documentary Music Makes a City (2010) chronicles the Louisville Orchestra’s founding years, and in spring 2018 Teddy Abrams and the orchestra were profiled on the popular television program CBS Sunday Morning.