Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra (photos: Stevens Media Group)
“… combining music-making with public service and orchestrating community in every corner of the city and state.”    – PBS NewsHour
(February 2024) — The Louisville Orchestra (LO) and Music Director Teddy Abrams – winners of a Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for their collaboration with pianist Yuja Wang on her album The American Project – are thrilled to announce the lineup for their 2024–25 season. Season highlights include Abrams leading Barber’s Violin Concerto with soloist Ray Chen, along with the world premiere of Valerie Coleman’s Concerto for Orchestra and works from the Creators Corps (Nov 15 & 16); Sibelius’s Violin Concerto with soloist Midori along with Strauss’s monumental An Alpine Symphony (Jan 17 & 18); Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Louisville Chamber Choir (Oct 19); and a staged production of Viktor Ullmann’s one-act chamber opera Der Kaiser Von Atlantis (Jan 25). Celebrated Canadian pianist Louis Lortie also performs with the orchestra this season, playing Ravel’s Concerto in G under the baton of Ken-David Masur (Feb 14–15); and the second annual Creators Fest returns in the spring, with Abrams leading world premieres from each of the three participants in the newest incarnation of the Louisville Orchestra’s groundbreaking Creators Corps initiative – Baldwin GiangBrittany J. Green and Oswald Huỳnh (May 9 & 10). The season is rounded out by a series of classic films with orchestral accompaniment including NosferatuRaiders of the Lost ArkHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2 and The Nightmare Before ChristmasCoffee Series concerts on Fridays at 11am; performances at Indiana University Southeast’s Ogle Center in New Albany, Indiana; a Pops Series led by Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt; and much more.  
 
Abrams, who is ready to embark on his eleventh season with the orchestra, elaborates:
“Our 2024-2025 season is a demonstration of the Louisville Orchestra’s values and unique capabilities. Our programming will showcase the extraordinary musicianship and virtuosity of our musicians in the widest range of repertoire. This breadth of music-making is a core part of our mission: we want to bring the world’s greatest music to Louisville while demonstrating that Louisville has the world’s greatest musical talent at home, too. From Alpine Symphony to Michael Tilson Thomas’ Meditations on Rilke, from Midori and Ray Chen to world premieres by our very own Creators Corps, we are offering a season of music that will both reflect and strengthen our community. While each program in our season explores powerful and profound narratives and subtexts, every concert will be a celebration of our orchestra, of Louisville, and of the universality of music itself.” 
Graham Parker, Chief Executive of the Louisville Orchestra, adds:
“As we announce the Louisville Orchestra’s new season, we reaffirm our dedication to be a vital and vibrant part of Louisville’s cultural tapestry. This season’s lineup is not only a showcase of the orchestra’s versatility and artistic excellence but also a testament to our role as a cultural leader and innovator. We are bringing to our stages a season filled with masterworks of classical music, some of the world’s greatest guest artists, groundbreaking new compositions, and programs that reflect our community’s spirit. The Louisville Orchestra is a place where music meets passion, where tradition meets innovation, and where every concert is an opportunity to inspire and be inspired. We invite you to join us on this extraordinary musical journey.”
2024 Grammy win
Abrams and the LO are the proud recipients of a 2024 Grammy Award for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” for their collaboration with superstar pianist Yuja Wang on her latest album, The American Project. Released on Deutsche Grammophon, the album features Abrams’s Piano Concerto, composed for Wang in 2022 and recorded live with the LO at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. Rounding out the album is the encore You Come Here Often?, created for Wang by another close friend, and Abrams’s mentor, Michael Tilson Thomas, and also recorded live with Abrams and the LO.
Classics and Coffee Series
Abrams conducts five Classics Series programs in 2024–25, showcasing the dynamism and versatility of the Louisville Orchestra along with a roster of world-class soloists. In October, he takes the podium for Tilson Thomas‘s Meditations on Rilke, juxtaposed with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, with the Louisville Chamber Choir featured on the program (Oct 19). Also in the fall, Abrams leads a Classics Series concert featuring violinist Ray Chen, praised in the Huffington Post for playing that offers “emotional depth of great intimacy.” The violinist joins the orchestra as soloist in Barber’s Violin Concerto, on a program with the world premiere of Louisville native Valerie Coleman’s Concerto for Orchestra and works from the Creators Corps, the three composers of which – along with Coleman herself – will make special guest appearances in the concert (Nov 16). A preview of this performance will be given in the 11am Coffee Series the previous day (Nov 15), as will be the case in January, when Abrams conducts the LO in Richard Strauss’s monumental An Alpine Symphony, one of his largest non-operatic works, along with visionary artist, activist and educator Midori performing Sibelius’s Violin Concerto (Jan 18). Later in the same month, Abrams conducts a rare staged production of Viktor Ullmann’s one-act chamber opera Der Kaiser Von Atlantis (Jan 25), written while he was imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Both the composer and librettist, Peter Kien, were later murdered at Auschwitz, but thanks to a fellow-prisoner to whom they were entrusted, Ullmann’s manuscripts survived.
 
Guest conductors for the Classics Series include Chilean-Italian conductor Paolo Bortolameolli, who opens the orchestra’s season leading Gustav Holst’s The Planets in Louisville’s historic Palace Theatre, on a program with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, featuring French pianist David Fray (Sep 14). A Valentine’s Day celebration titled “Ravel’s Romantic Reverie” is conducted by Ken-David Masur and features pianist Louis Lortie in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Also on the program is the same composer’s Daphnis and Chloe and Toru Takemitsu’s Star-Isle (Feb 15). The same program can be heard the previous day in the 11am Coffee Series (Feb 14)Joseph Young, Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony and Resident Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra–USA at Carnegie Hall, will be on hand in March to conduct three performances of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, in Coffee and Classics Series concerts and in the NightLites Series at Indiana University Southeast (March 7 & 8).
Creators Fest Season Finale
The Louisville Orchestra “Creators Corps” is a first-of-its-kind program that deeply integrates artists in the city of Louisville and with the orchestra, selecting three Creators each year to move to Louisville for the upcoming season and live in the Shelby Park neighborhood for at least 30 weeks. The Creators serve as LO staff members, receiving an annual salary, health insurance, housing, and custom-built studio workspaces. Throughout their residencies, the Creators compose new works to be performed by the orchestra, participate in educational and community engagement activities, and become active, engaged citizens of Louisville. The 2024-25 season concludes with the second annual “Creators Fest,” with Abrams conducting world premieres by the three 2024-25 Creators Corps composers, Baldwin GiangBrittany J. Green and Oswald Huỳnh, inspired by their residency in Louisville and composed specially for the Louisville Orchestra (May 10). This program will also be performed the previous day in the 11am Coffee Series (May 9).
NightLites Series
Part of Abrams’s initiative to bring the music of the Louisville Orchestra to multiple venues outside the confines of the traditional concert hall, the NightLites Series at Indiana University Southeast’s Ogle Center features four events this season. “Star Trek: A Musical Voyage Through the Stars” showcases the greatest hits from the Star Trek franchise, conducted by Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt (Oct 25). The same program will also be presented in the Pops Series in Whitney Hall (Oct 26). Handel’s Messiah will feature the Louisville Chamber Choir under the baton of its conductor, Kent Hatteberg (Dec 6). Grammy and Emmy-winning string trio Time For Three collaborates on a performance with the LO conducted by Abrams (Feb 7); and Stravinsky‘s Firebird Suite will be led by guest conductor Joseph Young (March 7).
Pops Series
The LO’s Pops Series, led by Bob Bernhardt, promises an eclectic mix of nostalgia and innovation. In “Rick Steves’ Europe,” celebrated travel expert Rick Steves guides an auditory and visual tour of Europe through music and storytelling (Nov 9). Other Pops highlights include tribute nights dedicated to the 80s and 90s featuring vocal talents from O-Town, NSYNC, and 98 Degrees (Feb 22 & March 22), the annual Holiday Pops (Dec 14), and “Star Trek: A Musical Voyage Through the Stars” (Oct 26).
Film Series
The 2024–25 season boasts a full roster of blockbuster films with live orchestral accompaniment. Back by popular demand is the eerie silent film Nosferatu, with a new score by Sebastian Chang (Oct 23). In keeping with that theme, the following month’s offering is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Nov 23), and the supernatural continues with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 (April 9 & 11). Finally, the family favorite Raiders of the Lost Ark, with an instantly recognizable sweeping score by John Williams, will be led by guest conductor Jason Seber (Feb 19). All films except Nosferatu will be at the historic Palace Theatre, and all will be accompanied live by the Louisville Orchestra.
Ticket and Subscription Information
Subscriptions for the Classics, Classics Mini A & B, Coffee, NightLites, Pops, and Film series are now available at LouisvilleOrchestra.org.
About the Louisville Orchestra
The Louisville Orchestra was created in 1937 and sprang up in a time of need, just after the Ohio River Great Flood and in the wake of the Great Depression. Robert Whitney was invited to conduct the newly established orchestra, then known as the Louisville Philharmonic, and arrived from Chicago that same year. With its formation, the goal was to create a new model for the American symphony orchestra, as it was conceived through an ambitious effort that emphasized innovation through the commissioning, performance, and recording of new works by contemporary composers. The Louisville Orchestra garnered international critical acclaim, became the first orchestra to establish a record label, and cemented a place in history for its contributions to contemporary classical music. In its first two decades, the Louisville Orchestra commissioned/recorded up to 52 new works annually and ultimately created 150 vinyl recordings (LPs) of more than 450 works. The Louisville Orchestra continues to be recognized as a cornerstone of the Louisville performing arts community. Music Director Teddy Abrams has helmed the Louisville Orchestra since 2014, and the Louisville Orchestra has returned to its origins of commissioning new music and recording, having released two albums under the prestigious Decca Gold label, and recently winning a 2024 Grammy Award for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” for The American Project, featuring the conductor’s own Piano Concerto with its dedicatee and Abrams’s longtime friend and collaborator, Yuja Wang, as soloist. A wide variety of immersive and innovative concert performances and educational programming continue to receive national attention. Recent press coverage includes a feature story on PBS NewsHour and articles and mentions in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalRolling StonePitchfork, and on CBS Sunday Morning. Accolades include three invitations to perform at Carnegie Hall; the Leonard Bernstein Award for Excellence in Educational Programming; the League of American Orchestras 2019 Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service; and 19 American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) awards for adventurous programming in use of contemporary music.