February 5, 2024
(February 2024) — Pianist Yuja Wang, along with conductor/composer Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra (LO), took home a Grammy for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” at the 2024 Grammy Awards, showcasing their collaboration on Wang’s recent Deutsche Grammophon album The American Project. Written by Abrams for Wang, his close friend and collaborator since the two were classmates at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, the Piano Concerto features a swing-style big band overture, three solo cadenzas, a Gershwin-esque “orchestra break,” the Latin jazz-inspired “Solos,” passages that echo boogie-woogie, American gospel tunes and Broadway
showstoppers. Initially intended as a companion piece to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the work evolved in scope during the composition process to become a 35-minute standalone showpiece for the pianist, about whom Abrams declares: “I think Yuja is one of the greatest pianists alive, and of all time. I always intended for her to be the one to take this piece and make it her own.” Rounding out the album – and also featuring the LO under Abrams’s baton – is the encore You Come Here Often? by Michael Tilson Thomas, another close friend of Wang’s and mentor to Abrams. Marking the first Grammy win for Abrams, Wang and the orchestra alike, this landmark achievement is a significant milestone in the orchestra’s illustrious history.
“First, a huge congratulations to the incredible Yuja Wang, who soloed on this extraordinary album and is one of the most talented musicians in the world right now. A giant congratulations to all of my colleagues at the Louisville Orchestra – an orchestra that is famous for its innovation, for putting out so many albums of living composers since it was founded in 1937. I am so proud of everyone at the orchestra, of the people of Louisville and of everybody that made this all happen. Thank you very, very much.”
Graham Parker, Chief Executive of the Louisville Orchestra, also expressed his elation:
“We are thrilled to have been a part of the 2024 Grammy Awards, and this win is a testament to the hard work, creativity, and passion of our musicians, staff and board. This accolade is a beacon of artistic achievement and recognition on the global stage. We are immensely proud of Teddy Abrams, Yuja Wang, and everyone involved in making The American Project a resounding success.”
Performing on a Grammy Award-winning album highlights the exceptional talent within the Louisville Orchestra and reinforces its reputation as a leading force in the world of classical music. Starting in the 1940s with First Edition Records, the Louisville Orchestra has long been one of the leading commissioners of new orchestral music, garnering over 500 new works from such luminaries as Elliott Carter, Chou-Wen chung, Alberto Ginastera, Witold Lutosławski, and more. The orchestra’s commitment to innovation, community engagement, and artistic excellence continues to resonate with audiences both locally and internationally.
The Grammy Award also paves the way for future artistic endeavors and collaborations. The orchestra extends its heartfelt thanks to its supporters, patrons, and the Louisville community for their unwavering support. The commission of the Piano Concerto by Teddy Abrams for Yuja Wang was underwritten by a generous grant from Justus and Elizabeth Schlichting.
For more information about the Louisville Orchestra and upcoming performances, please visit 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 contribution 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 been nominated for a 2024 Grammy Award for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” for their most recent release, 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 Journal, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and 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.
High-resolution photos are available here.
© 21C Media Group, February 2024