May 9, 2019

The Louisville Orchestra closes its banner 2018-19 season on May 11 with a program that pairs the world premiere of the orchestral song cycle The Song of the River, composed by dynamic Music Director Teddy Abrams, with Beethoven’s stirring Ninth Symphony. Soprano Morgan James, who was a hit with audiences and critics alike in the “Bernstein 100” concerts earlier in the season, sings Abrams’s world premiere, and a quartet of young soloists joins a full chorus conducted by Kent Hatteberg for the Beethoven. The performance on May 11 will be previewed in the “Coffee Concert” series on May 10 at 11am, with orchestra and soloists presenting Abrams’s song cycle and the first and last movements of the Ninth Symphony. Engaging with the orchestra’s remarkable past while keeping it at the center of today’s vibrant Louisville music scene, Abrams’s “tireless advocacy and community outreach” are, Listen magazine notes, “putting the history-rich Louisville Orchestra – and classical music – back on the map.” As Time magazine puts it: “A genre-defying orchestra in Louisville? Believe it. The locals do.

The Song of the River is a 35-minute song cycle for soprano and orchestra inspired by several intersecting themes, particularly the symmetry between the future of our global environment and the Norse mythological concept of “Ragnarok” (also known as the “Götterdämmerung”), the end of days in which the world is submerged in water. Abrams explains:

“I imagined a final, futuristic day when our beautiful Ohio River has risen to such an extent that the totality of human creating and expression is reflected in its waters, and just before that last day ends, the River itself offers a song that honors the legacy of humanity. Many of the poems in this piece celebrate our greatest achievements and aspirations, while some of the songs question our choices and actions. In an age of incessant digital iconography and truncated discourse, I found myself (and most of my generation) in an exhausted, anxious loop from bearing the heaviness of our daily dose of information, much of it negative and a great deal of it inconsequential. The creation of my work was both a cathartic self-therapy and an exploration, zoomed as far out as possible, of the confusion and awe that I continue to feel in equal measure at the state of our species.”

Abrams’s video introduction to The Song of River can be seen here.

Soprano Morgan James, “a phenomenal talent” (New York Times) who was recently named Huffington Post’s “Brightest Breakout Artist of the Year,” returns to Louisville for the season finale after opening the season in the “Bernstein 100” concert, which celebrated the trailblazing American master’s centenary year. She was featured in a wide variety of Bernstein’s music, from the “Jeremiah” Symphony to the “spectacular” “Glitter and Be Gay” from Candide, which “perfectly showcased her skill and virtuosity” (Arts-Louisville).

Beethoven’s colossal Ninth Symphony marked the first time a major composer had used voices in symphonic writing, and was scored for by far the largest forces the composer had ever employed. The choral fourth movement is based on Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy,” with some text added by Beethoven himself, and this exaltation of the ideal of universal brotherhood, together with the consistently innovative and inspiring music that surrounds it, earned the work five ovations at its Vienna premiere and has kept it among the most beloved and often-programmed symphonies in the literature to this day. A quartet of young soloists, selected by audition from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music—soprano Hayley Lipke, mezzo Liz Culpepper, tenor Spencer Lawrence Boyd, and bass Sonjin Kim—joins the orchestra, along with a full chorus conducted by Kent Hatteberg.

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 and an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall. 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. The feature-length, Gramophone Award-winning documentary Music Makes a City (2010) chronicles the Louisville Orchestra’s founding years.

High-resolution photos are available here.

www.louisvilleorchestra.org
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Louisville Orchestra: season finale concerts
Concerts take place at the Kentucky Center for the Arts

May 10 at 11am
Coffee Concert
TEDDY ABRAMS: The Song of The River (world premiere)
BEETHOVEN:  Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”)
I. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
IV. Finale
TEDDY ABRAMS, conductor
KENT HATTEBERG, chorusmaster
MORGAN JAMES, soprano
HAYLEY LIPKE, soprano
LIZ CULPEPPER, mezzo
SPENCER LAWRENCE BOYD, tenor
SONJIN KIM, bass 

May 11 at 8pm
ABRAMS: The Song of the River (world premiere)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”)
TEDDY ABRAMS, conductor
KENT HATTEBERG, chorusmaster
MORGAN JAMES, soprano
HAYLEY LIPKE, soprano
LIZ CULPEPPER, mezzo
SPENCER LAWRENCE BOYD, tenor
SONJIN KIM, bass

All dates, programs, and artists are subject to change.

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© 21C Media Group, May 2019