Teddy Abrams and Louisville Orchestra Announce Another High-Octane Season for 2015-16

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Teddy Abrams and Louisville Orchestra Announce Another High-Octane Season for 2015-16 


Under the galvanizing leadership of new Music Director Teddy Abrams, the creative resurgence continues apace at the Louisville Orchestra, which announced today another high-octane season for 2015-16. As Abrams revealed, coming attractions include the world premieres of four new commissions, including two by the multi-talented young composer-conductor himself; a keen emphasis on homegrown composition, from a season-launching account of Leonard Bernstein’s grand-scale MASS to 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 influence of J.S. Bach 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.”


Commissioning new American music to expand and revitalize the orchestral literature is not only a key component of Abrams’s new appointment, but has long been central to Louisville’s mission; since receiving a 1953 Rockefeller grant to commission, record, and premiere music by living composers, the orchestra has won 19 ASCAP awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. In the coming season, the music director looks forward to leading the first performances of a new piano concerto by Jazz Education Network (JEN) Composer Showcase Award-winner Chase Morrin, with the composer himself at the keyboard (April 8 & 9, 2016). Abrams also presents the world premieres of two of his own new compositions: Fanfare (March 5, 2016) and a suite for local community collaborators that will draw on Louisville’s vibrant music scene (Oct 23 & 24). Finally, further demonstrating the orchestra’s dedication to fostering new talent, Abrams and the orchestra premiere a new group composition commissioned from four students of his own alma mater, Philadelphia’s world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music (Jan 29 & 30, 2016). “I think that we can create a contemporary music that people love and care about and feel connected to,” Abrams explains. “Being at the forefront of music that is ‘now’ is at the heart of what the Louisville Orchestra is about.


These new commissions crown a season already rich in music from the New World. Morrin’s piano concerto highlights a two-part Festival of American Music (March 25–April 9, 2016) that also showcases works by Charles Ives, John Adams, Mason Bates, and Aaron Copland, in whose Clarinet Concerto the music director unveils another of his many talents, undertaking the solo clarinet role himself (March 25 & 26, 2016). Indeed, the new season will be bookended by a pair of American masterworks old and new: Abrams and the orchestra launch 2015-16 with a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS (1971), a monumental tour de force scored for orchestra, two choruses, marching and rock bands, actors, and dancers, and featuring Grammy-nominated baritone soloist Jubilant Sykes (Sep 26). And they draw the season to a gripping close in collaboration with Béla Fleck – “the world’s pre-eminent banjoist” (Wall Street Journal) – whom they join for performances of the 15-time Grammy Award-winner’s 2013 banjo concerto, The Impostor (April 29 & 30, 2016).


No less ambitious is the orchestra’s upcoming collaboration with dancers of the Louisville Ballet on Stravinsky’s seminal masterpiece Petrushka, a ballet rarely attempted in its entirety by regional companies because of the grandeur of its scale (March 5). Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra also integrate their more adventurous fare with a generous sampling of repertory staples, juxtaposing the new Curtis commission with Brahms’s beloved Violin Concerto, which features Avery Fisher Career Grant-winning German violinist Augustin Hadelich as soloist (Jan 29 & 30, 2016); Abrams’s composition for community collaborators with Beethoven’s Third “Eroica” Symphony (Oct 23 & 24); and Fleck’s concerto with Berlioz’s epic Symphonie fantastique (April 29 & 30, 2016). Louisville’s Music Director Emeritus Jorge Mester also returns to lead a pair of programs, built around Strauss’s Four Last Songs (Oct 9) and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, with William Wolfram as soloist (Jan 8 & 9, 2016).


Finally, beyond the concert hall, Abrams continues finding numerous alternative ways of reaching Louisville listeners. In the Neighborhood Series “LG&E Music Without Borders,” he leads favorite classics of the repertoire in city churches and synagogues, and Composer’s Corner invites still smaller audiences into private homes, to discover the works of the great composers. Meanwhile, besides taking his piano to the streets to meet locals face to face, the Music Director continues to wire his own pianos to an external sound system, so that passers-by can hear the music-making that takes place in his home. All told, Louisville’s 2015-16 offerings serve as a reminder that, as Arts-Louisville recently observed, the orchestra has embarked on a “new musical adventure with Abrams at the helm.”


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 has also been 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, www.louisvilleorchestra.org, and high-resolution photos are available www.louisvilleorchestra.org/media.


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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

  1. 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

“Musical Offering

  1. 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 TBD


Dec 4 & 5

Messiah: Christmas Selections”


Dec 5

“Home for the Holiday: A Family Concert”

Location TBD


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”

Ives: Thanksgiving and Forefather’s Day

Copland: Clarinet Concerto (with Teddy Abrams, clarinet)

John Adams: Harmonielehre

Mason Bates: Mothership


April 8 & 9

“Festival of American Music II”

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, February 2015

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