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Louisville Orchestra Collaborates with Kentucky College of Art and Design on “Art + Music”: Artist Responses to Orchestral Works

This winter, the Louisville Orchestra inaugurates an interdisciplinary, multi-sensory “Art + Music” collaboration with the Kentucky College of Art + Design (KyCAD), exploring the possibilities for cross-fertilization between music and the visual arts (Jan 25-26). Seven internationally acclaimed artists who have various affiliations with Louisville and KyCAD will create site-specific, time-based artworks that build upon, interpret, or reimagine a variety of orchestral works, some of which themselves were inspired by the visual arts or are evocative of extra-musical subjects. Artists Mariam Eqbal, Josh Azzarella, Jace Stovall, Ron Schildknecht, Ricardo Mondragon, Charles Rivera, and Anthony Schrag, as well as gustatory synesthete and chef Taria Camerino, respond to works by Handel, Schumann, Stravinsky, Ravel, Bartók, Ives and Mussorgsky, in a concert under the galvanizing leadership of Music Director Teddy Abrams, who Arts-Louisville calls “an unstoppable force. … He is reconnecting the orchestra with the community in a meaningful way.” On Friday morning preceding the Saturday concert the orchestra will give an 11am “Coffee Concert” preview of most of the program for an audience including student groups from Louisville.

In preparation for the Art + Music program, Abrams offered a range of orchestral pieces to the selected artists as possible subjects for their own contributed works, and the artists’ choices range over two centuries of western classical music. The program comprises the “Alla Hornpipe” from Handel’s Water Music; the fourth movement of Schumann’s “Rhenish” Symphony; Stravinsky’s “Infernal Dance” from the Firebird Suite: 1919; the final movement of Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, titled “The Fairy Garden”; the final movement from Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta; Charles Ives’s “The Housatonic at Stockbridge” from Three Places in New England; and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The January 26 evening performance will also include Mussorgsky’s evocative Night on Bald Mountain.

The responses of the seven artists to these works are as varied as the works themselves. Two of the artists, Josh Azzarella and Charles Rivera, are creating sound-based pieces in response to the musical works. Azzarella, who was part of the 2017 “Failure of Progress” group exhibition at Louisville’s Zephyr Gallery, is transforming the play of light from the musicians and instruments into a layer of sound that will add a randomized dimension to the stage orchestral performance, as a way of contemplating the tinnitus from which Schumann suffered. Rivera, who was born and raised in Louisville, is creating a sound collage installation that incorporates elements of Ives’s composition with radio frequencies from the vicinity of the concert hall and field recordings in nature.

Pakistani-American artist Mariam Eqbal, who teaches at the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, will use Abrams’s motions as he conducts Handel as the basis for her work. This will involve moving image projections onto multiple surfaces, combined with hand-drawing, abstracting the timing and form of the music as expressed through the conductor’s gestures into formal visual elements. Mexican-born and Chicago-based artist and composer Ricardo Mondragon will also employ projections, using an algorithm to convert the sound of the orchestra playing Bartók into a pixelated spectrogram that will be projected on a scrim between orchestra and audience.

Perhaps the most unusual work will be by chef, pastry chef, chocolatier, and herbalist Taria Camerino. During the Saturday evening performance she will present work that explores how flavors might manifest to communicate sound and image, based on her own gustatory synesthesia. While the orchestra performs Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, the audience will participate in a tasting that will suggest what Camerino tastes when she hears music.

The remaining three works venture into the realm of social commentary. Louisville artist Jace Stovall, a recent graduate of KyCAD, will create an animatic and narrative accompanying book telling the story of the Firebird. Inspired by the way every choreographer’s vision can alter the way the story is told, Stovall’s version will be a unique telling that explores costume and gender identity to create a new perspective on an old tale. Independent filmmaker and Louisville native Ron Schildknecht will use his work to draw a parallel between Ravel’s take on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale and the hundreds of refugee children in Sweden who have been diagnosed with “resignation syndrome” and lie in bed unresponsive for months or years while their families seek the security of acceptance by a new country. Finally, Anthony Schrag, an eclectic Zimbabwe-born, Scotland-based artist, will create a work reflecting on the plurality of cultural expressions and the implicit hierarchy between the forms they take. His inspiration is Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which was itself inspired by the paintings and drawings of the composer’s close friend Viktor Hartmann.

For a complete schedule of the Louisville Orchestra’s 2018-19 season, visit:

About KyCAD

The Kentucky College of Art + Design (KyCAD) is the only four-year independent college of art and design in the Commonwealth. With approval from the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education to award a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art, KyCAD is now designing its future and creating exciting new goals to be a college that sees the city of Louisville as its campus. KyCAD welcomes its first class of students in January of 2019 and is currently accepting applications for the fall. For enrollment information or to make a donation to help further the education of KyCAD students, visit

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.


Louisville Orchestra: winter/spring 2019 Classics Series

All concerts in this series take place at 8pm at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, unless otherwise noted

Jan 25
Coffee Concert @ 11am: “Art + Music”
Teddy Abrams, Music Director
HANDEL: “Alla Hornpipe” from Water Music
SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat “Rhenish”, Op. 97, mvt. 4
STRAVINSKY: “Infernal Dance” from The Firebird
RAVEL: “Apothéose: Le jardin féerique” from Ma mère l’oye
BARTÓK: Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, mvt. 4
IVES: “The Housatonic at Stockbridge” from Three Places in New England
MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition  

Jan 26
“Art + Music”
Teddy Abrams, Music Director
HANDEL: “Alla Hornpipe” from Water Music
SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat “Rhenish”, Op. 97, mvt. 4
RAVEL: “Apothéose: Le jardin féerique” from Ma mère l’oye
STRAVINSKY: “Infernal Dance” from The Firebird
BARTÓK: Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, mvt. 4
IVES: “The Housatonic at Stockbridge” from Three Places in New England
MUSSORGSKY: Night on Bald Mountain
MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition  

Feb 23
Festival of American Music I: “Kentucky Spring”
Teddy Abrams, Music Director
COPLAND: Appalachian Spring
Dancers from the Louisville Ballet
Andrea Schermoly, choreographer

March 9
Festival of American Music II: “The Jazz Influence”
Teddy Abrams, Music Director
GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue (with Teddy Abrams, piano)
MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind (Louisville premiere; with Measha Brueggergosman, soprano)
TYSHAWN SOREY: world premiere of an LO Commission
GABRIEL EVENS: world premiere of an LO Commission

March 30
“Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1”
Francesco Lecce-Chong, guest conductor
BACEWICZ: Polish Overture
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Andrew von Oeyen, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10 

April 27
“Teddy Talks Brahms”
Teddy Abrams, Music Director
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 4

May 11
“Beethoven’s 9th”
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”)
Teddy Abrams, Music Director

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

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© 21C Media Group, December 2018

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