Press Room

Louisville Orchestra Revitalized Under Galvanizing Leadership of Teddy Abrams; Many Sold Out Shows and Rising Ticket Sales Highlight 2014-15 Season Successes

The 2014-15 season of the Louisville Orchestra ended with sold-out performances and an enormous block party, an appropriately upbeat ending for the hugely successful inaugural season of Teddy Abrams as Music Director. Under his galvanizing leadership, the Louisville Orchestra has witnessed a remarkable resurgence this season, with rising ticket sales, many sold-out concerts, a rise in contributed income—including the return of many lapsed donors—and an enthusiastic public and critical response to concerts and events both inside the orchestra’s home venue and throughout the community. In a season that included three world-premieres, the orchestra saw a 17% increase in subscriptions for its main classics series, with that same series showing a remarkable 42% rise in single-unit sales. The LG&E Music Without Borders series expanded the geographic reach of the orchestra, taking it directly into local neighborhoods with performances at churches, synagogues and in Southern Indiana, many of which were sold to capacity and filled by people—nearly 50% of attendees—who had not heard the orchestra before. With a combination of innovative programming, an increased focus on community engagement, and a dedication to reaching a more diverse and younger audience, the Teddy Abrams Era of the Louisville Orchestra is off to an auspicious start.

Among his many achievements this season, Abrams reimagined the orchestra’s signature education series, “Making Music,” which this season celebrated its 75th anniversary. Taking into account the needs of today’s students, Abrams emphasized literacy and math (including Common Core, Program of Study, and National Arts Standards [NAS]), as part of the Making Music curriculum. The program had 100% participation by all 90 Jefferson County public elementary schools and several private schools. Fourth grade students focused on creating a “Name Symphony,” each taking their own name as the rhythmic basis for their composition, while fifth grade students worked on creating their own original instruments from found objects before playing them in a “Landfill Orchestra.”

With so much to celebrate, it should come as little surprise that the Louisville Orchestra musicians have characterized relations with the orchestra’s board and staff as “the best in memory.” All parties have expressed a unified desire to work together to continue to make the orchestra stable and successful long into the future. The musicians’ current contract expires May 31, 2016 and all parties are committed to having a successful and expedient negotiation.

Teddy Abrams comments:

“Having just ended my first season as Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra, I could not be happier with the progression and development of this extraordinary organization and its relationship to Louisville. The enthusiasm from the greater Louisville region for its orchestra has been inspiring and tremendously affirming for the direction we are taking with the Louisville Orchestra. This direction involves integrating the LO into the daily lives of all citizens of Louisville, transforming the cultural landscape with creative music-making in creative venues, and developing repertoire that defines this orchestra as a leader in shaping music in our world. While extremely ambitious, this is a town that will help us reach these goals, and our initial experiments in making this dream a reality have been engaging, energizing, and—of course—fun for the entire LO family. Next season will be even more adventurous and dramatic, and we are thrilled to know that we have a community eagerly awaiting the upcoming stage of our work together.”

To further thank the Louisville community for its enthusiastic support this season, the orchestra is finalizing plans for free concerts and special events that will take place around the time of the July 4 holiday. Details will be announced shortly.

Looking ahead
The Louisville Orchestra’s 2015-16 season will begin on September 26 with a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS featuring Grammy-nominated baritone soloist Jubilant Sykes. Upcoming season highlights include the world premieres of four new commissions, two of them by the multi-talented Abrams himself; a two-part Festival of American Music; a fully-staged production of Stravinsky’s Petrushka, presented complete in an unprecedented partnership with the Louisville Ballet; concerto collaborations with such eminent artists as banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck and violinist Augustin Hadelich; an exploration of “The Bach Effect” on German composers as diverse as C.P.E. Bach, Wagner, and Hindemith; favorite masterworks including Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, and seasonal selections from Handel’s Messiah; and collaborations with local musicians that typify Abrams’s and the orchestra’s extraordinary and unwavering commitment to innovative community engagement. As Arts-Louisville recently affirmed, “Abrams is leading the Louisville Orchestra into the next great leg of its journey.”

Some highlights of Teddy Abrams’ first season in Louisville can be seen in a series of videos from Music Makes a City Now.

The orchestra’s new logo was revealed in a cheeky video as part of a rebranding campaign undertaken by Louisville-based advertising and public relations agency Bandy Carroll Hellige (BCH).

More information is provided at the Louisville Orchestra’s web site,, and high-resolution photos are available

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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 20th-century 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 recently 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.

Louisville Orchestra: 2015-16 season

Except where noted, all concerts take place at Whitney Hall under the leadership of Music Director Teddy Abrams.

Sep 26
“Opening Night”
Bernstein: Mass (with Jubilant Sykes, baritone)

Oct 9
“Four Last Songs”
With Jorge Mester, Music Director Emeritus
Strauss: Four Last Songs
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

Oct 23 & 24
Teddy Abrams: Composition for Community Collaborators (world premiere)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

Nov 6 & 7
“The Bach Effect”
Strauss: Don Juan
Wagner: Overture to Tannhäuser
C.P.E. Bach: Sinfonia in B minor No. 5, WQ182
J.S. Bach (arr. Webern): Musical Offering
Hindemith: “Ragtime” from 1922
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C, K. 551 (“Jupiter”)
Wolfgang Rihm: Nature morte

Dec 4 & 5
Messiah: Christmas Selections”

Dec 5
“Home for the Holiday: A Family Concert”

Jan 8 & 9, 2016
“Rachmaninoff’s Second”
With Jorge Mester, Music Director Emeritus
Martinu: Symphony No. 6
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with William Wolfram, piano)

Jan 29 & 30
“Brahms & Rachmaninoff”
Brahms: Violin Concerto (with Augustin Hadelich, violin)
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances
Students from the Curtis Institute of Music: world premiere of new commission

March 5
PETRUSHKA – An Orchestra & Ballet Collaboration”
Teddy Abrams: Fanfare (world premiere)
Philip Glass: Violin Concerto
Stravinsky: Petrushka (with Louisville Ballet)

March 25 & 26
“Festival of American Music I”
American songs used in the music of Charles Ives
Ives: Thanksgiving and Forefather’s Day
Prima (arr. Abrams): Sing, Sing, Sing
Copland: Clarinet Concerto (with Teddy Abrams, clarinet)
Antheil: A Jazz Symphony
Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension
Steve Reich: Three Movements for Orchestra

April 8 & 9
“Festival of American Music II”
John Adams: Harmonielehre, movement I
Mason Bates: Mothership
Chase Morrin: Piano Concerto (world premiere; with Chase Morrin, piano)
Copland: Symphony No. 3

April 29 & 30
“Béla Fleck”
Mancini: Theme from Peter Gunn
Béla Fleck: The Impostor (with Béla Fleck, banjo)
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

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


© 21C Media Group, May 2015

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