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Teddy Abrams: CBS feature, Greene Space event tonight (June 3), Britt Festival July 26

The Britt Festival Orchestra’s 2019 summer season, anchoring Oregon’s Britt Music and Arts Festival with three weeks of exhilarating open-air programming in the scenic Rogue Valley, opens July 26. Under the galvanizing leadership of Music Director Teddy Abrams, the 2019 season features a compelling combination of beloved staples of the repertoire and cutting-edge, 21st-century compositions. Highlights of the season include a new Britt co-commission from Christopher Cerrone called Meander, Spiral, Explode; the conducting debut of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, who will be in residence this season as the Composer/Conductor Fellow; solo concertos showcasing violinist Augustin Hadelich, cellist Oliver Herbert, and pianist George Li; cornerstones of the orchestral literature from Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy and Sibelius; and a new score for Sergei Eisenstein’s Soviet silent film classic Battleship Potemkin, drawing from some of the greatest moments in classical music. As a prelude to his July 28 performance with Oliver Herbert, Abrams joins the young rising-star cellist for an event at WQXR’s Greene Space in Manhattan today, June 3. Click here for tickets and more information about the Greene Space event, and here for Britt Festival Orchestra tickets and information.

Abrams’s performance at the Greene Space comes on the heels of a long feature story about his leadership of the Louisville Orchestra called “The Maestro” that aired on CBS Sunday Morning on May 26. The youngest conductor of a major orchestra in the United States at 32, Abrams’s achievements relative to his youth are an initial focus of the story, which notes that “in Louisville, if it’s possible for a classical musician, he’s a rock star.” But even more remarkable is the infectious enthusiasm he has brought to the orchestra that in turn has increased ticket sales by 30% in the four years of his tenure, as well as a programming philosophy that embraces constant cross-fertilization between genres and engages with the entire Louisville community. Abrams explains in the segment:

“A music director should, if they’re going to be the music director of X orchestra, live in X, and care about the people of X, and become one of them. I often say it’s just like a politician; if you want to get elected, you’d better be out on the streets meeting people. And it’s exactly the same thing here. What I try to do is go meet the actual people that we’re going to make music for.”

The CBS Sunday feature on Abrams is available here.

Teddy Abrams has been Music Director of the Britt Orchestra since 2014, and recently extended his contract with the ensemble through 2023. His spirit of innovation and community engagement is everywhere evident, whether it be in a pub crawl with the orchestra playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in bars throughout the region, in programs that address critical local issues like homelessness, or through outreach activities in local high schools. In the summer of 2016 he led the orchestra in the world-premiere performance of a Britt Music and Arts Festival commission to mark the centennial of America’s National Park Service: composer and Bang on a Can co-founder Michael Gordon’s Natural History. The performance took place at Oregon’s breathtaking Crater Lake, a site sacred to the local Klamath Tribes, that was the inspiration for Gordon’s work; it not only featured the 40 members of the orchestra, a 70-voice choir, and 30 brass players and percussionists, but also a Klamath family drum group known as the Steiger Butte Singers, with several members of the Klamath Tribal Council in attendance. This once-in-a-lifetime event was captured on disc by Cantaloupe Music and subsequently chronicled in the Emmy-nominated documentary Symphony for Nature: The Britt Orchestra at Crater Lake, directed by Anne Flatté and co-produced by Owsley Brown Presents and the Britt Music and Arts Festival. The irrepressibly energetic Abrams is also in the midst of his fifth season at the helm of the Louisville Orchestra, where his hallmarks of innovation and community engagement have been similarly transformative. As NPR Music advises, “to help boost interest in classical music, look no further than Teddy Abrams.”

About the Britt Orchestra and Britt Music & Arts Festival

Founded in 1963, the Britt Orchestra brings together 90 professional musicians from across the United States for three weeks of open-air performances each summer. Forming the heart of the annual Britt Music & Arts Festival, the Britt Orchestra Season takes place in Jacksonville, Oregon, less than half an hour’s drive from the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The festival was the brainchild of Portland conductor John Trudeau and musician Sam McKinney, who came to southern Oregon in search of the perfect location. When they discovered the superb natural acoustics and stunning views of Britt Park – the former hillside estate of Jacksonville pioneer Peter Britt, a Swiss-born photographer who became one of Oregon’s most celebrated citizens – they knew that they had found it. In 1963, with a small chamber orchestra on a makeshift stage, the first summer outdoor music festival in the Pacific Northwest was born.

Since its grassroots beginnings, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber festival to a multi-disciplinary summer-long concert series with year-round education and engagement programs. Constructed 40 years ago, the 2,200-capacity Britt Pavilion enables Britt to present world-class artists while maintaining the intimacy for which it is known.

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Britt Orchestra 2019 Season
Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville, OR

All concerts start at 8:00pm and are conducted by Music Director Teddy Abrams.

Fri, July 26
“Opening Night: Among the Trees with Third Coast Percussion”
Mozart: The Magic Flute Overture (conducted by Caroline Shaw)
Christopher Cerrone: Meander, Spiral, Explode (Britt co-commissioned work with Third Coast Percussion, soloists)
Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F

Sun, July 28
“Beethoven & Elgar”
Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F (“Pastoral”)
Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor (Oliver Herbert, cello)

Fri, Aug 2
“Rachmaninoff & Sibelius”
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor (George Li, piano)
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D

Sun, Aug 4
“The Rising Seas”
Debussy: La Mer
John Luther Adams: Become Ocean

Fri, Aug 9
“Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto”
Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Lili Boulanger: D’un matin de printemps (One Spring Morning)
Anna Clyne: Abstractions
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D (Augustin Hadelich, violin)

Sun, Aug 11
“Closing Night: Britt Orchestra Spectacular”
A new score to the silent film Battleship Potemkin, featuring some of the greatest moments in classical music, from composers including Bach, Beethoven, Berlioz, Debussy, Janáček, Mahler, Holst, and more

Ticket information
Premium reserved $45; standard reserved $25; lawn $20; child/student lawn $10

Tickets may be purchased online at or from the Britt Box Office by calling (800) 882-7488 or visiting 216 West Main Street, Medford, OR.

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© 21C Media Group, June 2019

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