On September 29, the Louisville Orchestra opens its fifth season under the galvanizing leadership of Teddy Abrams, who Arts-Louisville calls “an unstoppable force. … He is reconnecting the orchestra with the community in a meaningful way.” The characteristically creative and eclectic 2018-19 lineup combines world premieres of new commissions, a heartfelt tribute to a 20th-century master, innovative approaches to the classics, guest appearances by world-class conductors and soloists, and imaginative interdisciplinary collaborations with local arts institutions. Reconnecting the orchestra with its remarkable past while reestablishing it as the cornerstone of today’s vibrant Louisville music scene, Abrams’s “tireless advocacy and community outreach” are, Listen magazine notes, “putting the history-rich Louisville Orchestra – and classical music – back on the map.” The Los Angeles Times advises: “Watch this guy; he’s going places.” As The Guardian observes, Abrams “understands better than most how music makes a city.”

In their opening-night concert, the Music Director and orchestra honor a giant of American culture, celebrating Leonard Bernstein at 100 (Sep 29). The Festival of American Music returns for its fourth season in the spring, featuring a collaboration with the Louisville Ballet and a world premiere folk opera and film from Louisville native Rachel Grimes (Feb 23), plus a program of orchestral jazz that includes two world premieres of Louisville Orchestra commissions (March 9). Another collaboration, with the new center for art and design KyCAD in Louisville, enriches the orchestra’s wide-ranging exploration of “Art + Music” (Jan 26). In “Teddy Talks Brahms,” the Music Director and orchestra offer an illuminating deconstruction of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony (April 27), and two more timeless European classics – Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers and Mozart’s Requiem – are the vehicles for their ambitious choral extravaganza (Oct 27). For the final concert of the season, a pinnacle of the Classical literature – Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony – is paired with a new song cycle being composed by Abrams on the theme of bourbon’s influence on American history, in a nod to the orchestra’s Kentucky home (May 11). Three guest-conducting engagements complete the Classics Series lineup, including the return to Louisville of one of Abrams’s mentors, the legendary Leonard Slatkin (Jan 12).

About the season, the young Music Director explains: "The 2018-19 season of the Louisville Orchestra builds on our mission to create uniquely curated and adventurous programs for our audiences. We are balancing dramatic new projects with large-scale repertoire presented in creative formats. From a celebration of Leonard Bernstein that includes multiple sets of his music in populist, classical, and religious idioms to a juxtaposition of the Monteverdi "Vespers" of 1610 with the Mozart Requiem, plus an intensive discussion and exploration of Brahms' Symphony No. 4, we are performing great works of the past in ways that invite audiences to forge deep relationships with the art itself. Our projects include several major initiatives during our annual Festival of American Music: a new commissioned staging of Appalachian Spring, a world premiere of a new opera by the brilliant and introspective artist Rachel Grimes about intersecting stories of women from Kentucky’s past, and a program devoted to jazz and its relationship with the orchestral world. Continuing a tradition in which I compose a new work for the LO each season, I'm writing a new song cycle about bourbon’s influence on American history - from the Revolutionary War era to the present - which we are pairing with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. I am also thrilled to welcome my mentor Leonard Slatkin as a guest conductor next season - it is wonderful to bring an icon of American music to an orchestra that has an iconic history of its own. Between our commissions, projects, and experiments with form and format, I am very proud that the Louisville Orchestra continues to reshape and grow the definition of what an orchestra can be in the 21st Century.”

 

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