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Louisville Orchestra’s Music Director, Teddy Abrams, Responds to Community Needs in Time of COVID-19


From his earliest days as Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra, Teddy Abrams has been lauded for his efforts to connect his hometown orchestra with the community at large. In the age of COVID-19, Abrams has redoubled his efforts, on his own and with the orchestra, to bring comfort to people across the city. Along with the city’s mayor, Greg Fischer, Abrams and the orchestra are participating in Lift Up Lou,” offering Louisville residents “uplifting and engaging” live and shareable content as well as ideas to stay connected, all made available on social media at@LiftUpLou (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and on the city’s website. With Lift Up Lou’s “Music on the Move” program,Abrams and artists from the community are taking music directly to the people – at a safe distance, in accordance with the current guidelines. On radio station WUOL Classical Louisville, Abrams is co-hosting a live 3pm Friday afternoon show with the station’sDaniel Gilliam and two special guests: Congressman John Yarmuth, who represents Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives, and celebrated singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. Streaming live at WUOL’s Facebook page, In This Together” is described by Gilliam as “a weekly segment to help bring us closer together with music and conversation when we need to be apart”; the first episode aired on Friday, March 27, and featured special guests Lonnie Ali, violinist Tessa Lark and bassist Michael Thurber. As Abrams explains, “This is essentially a wartime situation: every citizen needs to participate in any way they can. For artists that means sharing our art immediately and creatively, continuing to inspire and connect our communities as we address the challenges of isolation head-on.”


Louisville’s Mayor, Greg Fischer, says:


“We’ve been saying throughout this crisis that something good can always come out of something bad. Teddy Abrams is bringing so much joy to our community. He’s using his creativity to maximize the platforms of Lift Up Lou, and he is encouraging other local artists to do the same. The arts are critical to healing our minds, and they will be essential to getting us back to normal once COVOID-19 departs our community.”


This past weekend, to kick off “Music on the Move,” Abrams rolled his electronic keyboard into various neighborhoods for a series of one-man shows. As the local Courier-Journal reported, Beginning with a courtyard performance for residents of Treyton Oaks Tower in Old Louisville, Abrams then set up a mobile stage in the open rear of a Louisville Metro Parks Rec on the Go box truck and visited nearby neighborhoods before looping back for some downtown hospital visits.As Abrams told WDRB:


We didn’t tell anyone where we were going, we don’t want people congregating its very important for people to understand. We all have a role to play and if my little role is to share some music even if three people actually come to their window to hear it and I have made three people’s days betterthat’s enough.


This week, Abrams and a group of artistic, civic and philanthropic leaders will announce an ambitious program called the Louisville Arts Network (LAN). Abrams comments:

The LAN was our idea to do several things: first, to demonstrate that the art and creative work being shared online is truly valued by the community; second, to focus this artistic output so that local artists will have a wider audience; third, to provide funding directly to individual creative people who are all suffering financial losses at the moment; and, finally, to create a system in the model of the WPA, which converts a challenging historical moment into one of creative expression that unites and defines us.


More details about the Louisville Arts Network will be released on Wednesday, April 1, on the city’s website.



© 21C Media Group, March 2020

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