Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, home of the Louisville Orchestra (photo: Frankie Steele)
“If we’re relying on the younger generation to help boost interest in classical music, look no further than Teddy Abrams.”— NPR Music
“A genre-defying orchestra in Louisville? Believe it.”— Time magazine
Long praised for visionary thinking about the role of an orchestra in its community, galvanizing Music Director Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra launch their newest initiative, the Louisville Orchestra Creators Corps, completely transcending traditional commissioning and composer-in-residence paradigms with a radically new model for collaborating with symphony orchestras in the 21st century. Each year in the spring, the orchestra will select three creators to move to Louisville for the upcoming season and live in the Shelby neighborhood for at least 30 weeks, serving as staff members with an annual salary of $40,000health insurancehousing, and a custom-built studio workspace. Creators with experience beyond the Western classical tradition are encouraged to apply, and those participating in the program will have the option of re-applying/renewing for one or two additional years. Throughout their residencies, they will compose new works to be performed by the orchestra, participate in educational and community engagement activities, and be active, engaged citizens of their neighborhood. The program has been funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and individual donors. Applications for the 2022-23 season are due by May 2, and the three finalists will be publicly announced in mid-June. The residency begins September 1.
 
Abrams, who was named Conductor of the Year for 2022 by Musical America and is now in his eighth season with the orchestra, explains: 
“The LO Creators Corps is the most ambitious large-scale project the Orchestra has undertaken since I arrived in Louisville. The concept developed from four critical lines of inquiry: how can we establish Louisville as a global center of creative music-making, how can we reposition composers as visible leaders with public service responsibilities, how can we provide our city with a direct and deep connection to the art-making process, and how can we offer a 21st century response to the LO’s historic First Edition commissioning and recording project? The resulting concept will be a grand experiment – a first amongst American orchestras – to employ (and house!) multiple, full-time composers (called creators to represent all musical genres) who will regularly present new music for both the Orchestra and the community beyond, serving as creative artists committed to helping our city grow and flourish. I like the idea of deploying artists for a real purpose, getting them involved in a way that involves a deeper collective vision, like the Peace Corps.”
Composer Angélica Negrón, a member of the Creators Corps Advisory Panel which will review all the applications, adds:
“The LO Creators Corps is a uniquely special opportunity for composers to have a meaningful and sustainable relationship with a wonderful orchestra that’s deeply committed to not only supporting new music but also to making this new music a vital part of their community. To have the chance to imagine, create and develop with such a substantial and strong support system is a rare gift for music makers – particularly in the context of orchestras – and could have a huge impact on a composer’s career. I’m excited to hear the music and conversations that this new initiative sparks.”
The Creators Corps initiative builds on the Louisville Orchestra’s earliest history and personality as an institution. Starting in 1947, the orchestra began an ambitious and unprecedented project of commissioning new orchestral works from composers around the world. At a time when even the most prestigious orchestras were offering few works by living composers, the Louisville Orchestra commissioned and premiered 21 works in just three seasons. With the launch of First Edition Recordings in 1955, the LO became the first American orchestra to own a recording label when it received a Rockefeller grant of $500,000 to commission, record, and premiere music by living composers. Known as a pioneer in new music ever since, the orchestra has commissioned more than 150 works from luminary composers including Aaron Copland, William Schuman, Paul Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, Jacques Ibert, Heitor Villa-Lobos and a host of others. From 1947 to the 1977-78 season, no other orchestra equaled the impact of the Louisville Orchestra in bringing to life the works of contemporary composers. The New York Philharmonic came closest with a total of 110 works created compared to the Louisville Orchestra’s 136 commissions. During the same period, the Boston Symphony Orchestra premiered 87 commissions, followed by the Houston Symphony (81), the American Composers Orchestra (76), and the Chicago Symphony (75). A survey of premieres starting in 1958 shows that the Louisville Orchestra’s active advocacy of the works of living composers stimulated a dramatic world-wide increase in support that continues to this day.
 
Though conceived as a successor project to First Edition Records, the Creators Corps also represents a giant leap forward. The initiative asks the three invited creators to act as artist-leaders, developing meaningful relationships with neighborhood residents and embodying the orchestra’s conviction that music is a fundamental part of civic life. Responsibilities will include creating orchestral works to be featured in the LO’s annual Festival of American Musiccommunity-based projects; education initiativescollaboration with performers of diverse genres and backgrounds; curating portions of orchestral programs at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall; and participating in public activities in the Shelby Park neighborhood and throughout Louisville.
 
The Louisville Orchestra has assembled an Advisory and Selection Committee to determine each year’s three finalists from an open application process. The committee will search for creators from a variety of backgrounds who have distinctive artistic voices, are dedicated to community and educational outreach, and care deeply about grounding their musical practice in social engagement. The ideal applicants will be early or mid-career creators with bold ideas about writing for and interacting with an orchestra. They must be civic-minded and interested in utilizing music as a vehicle for community change. Finally, the creators must be outgoing, social, and self-directed, with the desire to initiate projects and be active in neighborhood life. Creators with wide-ranging experiences and training are encouraged, but applicants must have the ability to compose for a symphony orchestra or be willing to partner with other creators with those skills.
 
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says:
“Our Louisville Orchestra’s tradition as an innovator and an international center for new works takes another leap forward with the launch of the Creators Corps. Our Orchestra benefits from exciting new music, and Shelby Park and our entire community benefit from the educational and community events. Hats off to Teddy Abrams and the entire Louisville Orchestra team for their efforts to show how a community can shape the arts, and how the arts can shape a community.”
Graham Parker, interim Executive Director of the Louisville Orchestra, concludes:
“The Louisville Orchestra has always led the national conversation about the role of composers in the shaping of artistic and civic impact. The new Creators Corps program is the next bold chapter of that story, providing our community and audiences with consistent relationships with leading creative voices of the day, as well as providing a stable and deep opportunity for composers to hone their voices and understand how their music can bring community together. This is the only way forward.”
Application Process
Artists can apply for the residency and view details at  https://louisvilleorchestra.org/creators-corps.

Important Dates & DeadlinesMarch 23, 2022: Applications openMay 2, 2022: Application deadlineEnd of May 2022: NotificationAugust 2022: Selected residents begin relocating to LouisvilleSeptember 1, 2022: Residency period beginsFor questions, please contact Jacob Gotlib, Creative Neighborhood Residency Program Manager, at jgotlib@louisvilleorchestra.org or call 502.587.8681.
About the Louisville Orchestra
Established in 1937 through the combined efforts of businessman Dann C. Byck, and conductor Robert Whitney, the Louisville Orchestra is a cornerstone of the Louisville arts community. An audacious plan by Louisville Mayor Charles Farnsley launched the Louisville Orchestra First Edition Recordings in 1947 and the LO 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. Continuing its commitment to new music, the Louisville Orchestra has earned 19 ASCAP awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, and was also awarded 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 their 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.