Press Room

KY funds Louisville Orchestra “In Harmony” tour through 2026

(April 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 continuation of “In
Harmony – The Commonwealth Tour” through 2026, bolstered by a significant $4.3 million
funding allocation from the Kentucky State Legislature. This landmark initiative, which began in
2022, has already had a profound impact, reaching over 27,000 Kentuckians across 38 counties
through more than 125 events, and is now set to extend its reach further into the heart of Kentucky
communities. This funding will enable the orchestra to deepen community engagement and enrich
the cultural fabric throughout the state, across urban and rural areas alike.

Highlights of the tour thus far

“In Harmony” has redefined the concert experience, bringing the orchestra’s multidimensional
talent to diverse settings – from schools to community centers – while illuminating the shared
heritage of Kentucky’s communities. Since it began in November 2022, the tour has already seen
remarkable success, hosting 18 free full-orchestra performances with over 16,000 attendees.
Highlights have included unique collaborations with Kentucky’s own talent, including Grammy
Award winners Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, and violinist
Tessa Lark.

“In Harmony” has also demonstrated a comprehensive and engaging approach to community
partnerships through intimate school engagements, masterclasses, and ensemble performances at
community centers and libraries across 53 unique Kentucky zip codes. A total of 109 community
events with 10,000 attendees included 45 held in educational institutions. The innovative “Once
Upon an Orchestra” program, blending music with storytelling, was a hit, presented 35 times in
Kentucky libraries. Additionally, 29 public and private performances took place across the state
connecting with assisted living communities, veteran centers, and public gathering centers. Sarah
Lempke O’Hare, Louisville Orchestra Director of Community Partnerships, elaborates:

“We are thrilled and immensely grateful to be able to continue to do impactful work throughout
the Commonwealth. This funding gives us the opportunity to continue engagement work we
have uniquely developed with each community while continuing to provide orchestra concerts
that offer a place of joy and healing for Kentuckians. ”

Community leaders and audience members have expressed their profound appreciation for the
tour’s impact. Gwen Johnson, Director of the Hemphill Community Center, said: “Our somewhat
forgotten community was encouraged to believe that someone cares enough to bring their talent to
us. The concert was a ‘classical first-ever’ experience for us in our community.”

The path ahead

The generous support of $4.3 million in continued funding from the Kentucky state legislature is
crucial to realizing the “In Harmony” tour’s objectives and ensuring its continued success through
2026. Conducted by Music Director Teddy Abrams and Concertmaster and Resident Conductor
Gabe Lefkowitz, the Louisville Orchestra will introduce in-depth residencies during touring
weeks, and the funding will allow for the purchase of a mobile stage, breaking down a barrier of
access and providing the opportunity to reach even deeper into communities. The tour will also
continue to showcase local culture and musical heritage with Kentucky-born guest artists and
performances scheduled in various regions of the state.

Senate President Robert Stivers says:

“The remarkable impact of the Louisville Orchestra’s ‘In Harmony’ tour plays a significant role in
bridging the rural-urban divide. This initiative extends beyond entertainment; it is a vehicle for
education, cultural enrichment, and community cohesion. By supporting the continuation of this
tour, we are investing in the cultural wealth of our Commonwealth, reinforcing our commitment
to enhancing the lives of Kentuckians through the arts. It’s initiatives like these that showcase
the Bluegrass State’s rich artistic heritage and pave the way for a future where everyone can
participate and draw inspiration from the beauty of orchestral music.”

The schedule for the ongoing tour includes a mix of new and returning locations as the orchestra
continues to spread its message of inclusiveness and community engagement to every corner of the
Commonwealth. Through these visits, the orchestra aims to reinforce established connections and
forge new ones, celebrating Kentucky’s diverse cultural landscape through music. Abrams

“The past two years of touring the Commonwealth of Kentucky have been transformative and
affirming for the Louisville Orchestra and for me as an artist. We believe that this work is the core
function of a modern cultural institution, and it has become our dream to continue this program
far into the future.”

Graham Parker, Chief Executive of the Louisville Orchestra, adds:

“During our first two years of touring, so many of our dreams were realized, and equally
importantly we saw what more we could be doing if we could continue the program. With this
extraordinary new appropriation from the General Assembly, we can build on what we started
and expand our reach, our impact and our relationships.

“The next two years will see us deepen relationships in Western and Eastern Kentucky via
week-long residencies, and we will work with more Kentucky artists bringing more new music to
every concert. We also plan more stops in towns that we couldn’t get to in our first two years, so
that we can make good on the promise to visit every corner of the state.

“We want to thank the leadership in the General Assembly, specifically President Stivers and
Speaker Osbourne, for their unwavering and enthusiastic support for our tours. Without their
partnership, none of our dreams would have come true.”

House Speaker David Osborne responds:

“The continued success of ‘In Harmony – The Commonwealth Tour’ represents a unique
investment in our state’s culture, improving quality of life and enriching our communities. The
Louisville Orchestra’s initiative is a testament to the power of the arts in bringing Kentuckians
together and reminding us that we have a great deal to take pride in and celebrate. We are
pleased to allocate funding that will not only extend this valuable program but also amplify its
reach to more communities, ensuring that every Kentuckian has the opportunity to experience
this incredible asset to our Commonwealth.”

Details of concert dates, community engagement opportunities, and ways to support this vital
initiative can be found here. Dates are planned for July and September 2024, with specifics to be
announced in May.

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. They released two albums under the prestigious Decca
Gold label, and, most recently, won 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 Journal, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork,
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.

High-resolution photos are available here.

© 21C Media Group, April 2024

Return to Press Room