14 MAR 2020 :: The second of the Festival of American Music is currently under construction. Details will be announced soon.


TEDDY ABRAMS, conductor


FRI 13 MAR 2020  :: Program information will be released soon.

CLASSICS: THE JAZZ INFLUENCE — Festival of American Music II

09 MAR 2019 ::  George Gershwin brought jazz to the concert hall with his seminal Rhapsody in Blue. With Teddy Abrams at the piano and on the podium, the Louisville Orchestra explores the influence of jazz in classical music.

GABRIEL EVENS:  Run for It [World Premiere of an LO Commission]
GEORGE GERSHWIN:  Rhapsody in Blue
MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind

TEDDY ABRAMS, conductor and piano
ANSYN BANKS, trumpet
CRAIG WAGNER, electric guitar
UofL Student Jazz Ensemble:  Blase Groody, tenor saxophone Isaac Stephens, trumpet Chad O’Brien, trombone Jailynn Lake, bass Pedro Augusto, drumset
Emily Black, vocalist
Haley De Witt, vocalist

CLASSICS: KENTUCKY SPRING — Festival of American Music I

23 FEB 2019 :: Performed as the full ballet, Appalachian Spring touches on the primal issues of marriage, survival, and eternal regeneration. The piece was commissioned and choreographed by the legendary Martha Graham and for the first time presented with NEW CHOREOGRAPHY by the talented Andrea Schermoly, choreographer in residence at Louisville Ballet.

Plus The Way Forth, a new folk opera & film by Louisville native Rachel Grimes. Highlighting real and imagined perspectives of generations of Kentucky women from 1775 to the present day, and inspired by a treasure trove of family photos, documents, and letters, The Way Forth sifts through familiar stories to explore lesser-told tales of the historically oppressed. Through music, voice, and film, the work honors the emotional legacies of the silenced, the feminine, the holistic, the beauty of daily life, and the eternal grace and redemption of time, as symbolized by the great Dix and Kentucky Rivers.

AARON COPLAND:  Appalachian Spring

TEDDY ABRAMS, conductor
ANDREA SCHERMOLY, choreographer for Appalachian Spring
CATHARINE AXLEY, The Way Forth film co-creator and editor

LOUISVILLE BALLET DANCERS:  Natalia Ashikhmina, matriarch • Rob Morrow, counselor • Lexa Daniels, wife • Mark Krieger, husband  •  Community Members: Erin Langston Evans •  Annie Honebrink • Emily Reinking O’Dell • Ashley Thursby • Brienne Wiltsie • Aubrielle Whitis  • John Brewer • Justin Michael Hogan • Sanjay Saverimuttu • Phillip Velinov • Trevor Williams •  Kristopher Wojtera

THE WAY FORTH ENSEMBLE:  Timbre Cierpke • Scott Moore • Erica Pisaturo • Laura De St. Croix • Charlie Patton • Cecilia Huerta-Lauf • Aaron May • Jecorey Arthur • Rachel Grimes
CAST:  Stephen Webber • Martha Neal Cooke • Joe Manning • Doris Smith • Laquida Garner
CHOIR: members of SONUS • The University of Louisville Collegiate Choral • The Women’s Choir of Eastern High School



COFFEE: THE JAZZ INFLUENCE – Festival of American Music II

08 MAR 2019 :: George Gershwin brought jazz to the concert hall with his seminal Rhapsody in Blue. With Teddy Abrams at the piano and on the podium, the Louisville Orchestra explores the influence of jazz in classical music.

GABRIEL EVENS: Run for It  [World Premiere of an LO Commission]
GEORGE GERSHWIN:  Rhapsody in Blue
MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind

TEDDY ABRAMS, conductor and piano
UofL Student Jazz Ensemble:  Blase Groody, tenor saxophone Isaac Stephens, trumpet Chad O’Brien, trombone Jailynn Lake, bass Pedro Augusto, drumset
Emily Black, vocalist
Haley De Witt, vocalist

Donna Parkes wins Ford Musician Award

We are so proud of Donna Parkes who won one of 5 Ford Musician Awards from the League of American Orchestras.


The Louisville Orchestra’s principal trombonist Donna Parkes is one of just five orchestra musicians from across the U.S. who received Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service from the League of American Orchestras at the League’s 74th National Conference in Nashville, June 3-5, 2019. The awards celebrate professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement.

This year’s awardees work with children of all ages in a variety of initiatives, introducing young children to orchestral instruments through story, live music, and movement; teaching hearing and speech-impaired children new skills; providing music education and engagement to students from underserved communities; connecting with children and families in outlying communities through creative programming; and facilitating the creation of new compositions by high school students.

Donna Parkes at the Heuser Hearing Institute

“Donna is an amazing musician and leader,” states Louisville Orchestra CEO Robert Massey. “In addition to serving as Principal Trombone, she is a member of the Louisville Orchestra Musicians Committee, holds a seat on the Board of Directors, and has extensively been at the forefront of the Orchestra’s community programs. She has been instrumental in the Louisville Orchestra’s Heuser Hearing and Learning Academy Residency program for more than a decade. Introducing the wonder of sound and music to deaf and hearing-impaired children, Donna collaborates with the teachers and therapists at Heuser and coordinates the participation of her fellow LO musicians to bring this program to the Academy classrooms every month. We are pleased that Donna is being recognized by the League for her work in this program.”

“These musicians’ artistry and commitment drives compelling work that touches the lives of so many in their communities,” said Jesse Rosen, the League’s President and CEO. “Ford Motor Company Fund’s ongoing support has helped us share the inspiring stories of these trailblazing mentors and leaders with the entire orchestra field and beyond.”

“We’re proud to recognize these five musicians, whose contributions to their communities will create a lasting positive impact,” said Yisel Cabrera, Manager, Government and Community Relations, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Music and the arts have the ability to transcend boundaries and bring people together, which is why the generous service these musicians are providing is so important.”

The musicians received their awards at the League of American Orchestras’ Conference Luncheon, June 4, and discussed their work at Musicians Transforming Communities, a session for Conference delegates on June 4.

About Donna Parkes

Australian trombonist Donna Parkes has been Principal Trombone of the Louisville Orchestra since 2008 and has been Principal Trombone of the Colorado Music Festival since 2009. She has played with the Utah Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, and the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. She has performed with many orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Oregon Symphony, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Sydney Symphony, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Parkes has performed at the Arizona Musicfest, the Marlboro Festival, and the Grand Tetons Festival and in 2016 toured with the Australian World Orchestra. Solo competition successes include winning the Australian National Trombone Competition, the Brisbane International Brass Competition, and finalist in the Jeju Brass Competition in Korea. She has appeared as a soloist or clinician at the International Women’s Brass Conference, International Trombone Festival and the Melbourne International Festival of Brass. Parkes received her Masters Degree studying under Charles Vernon at DePaul University and other primary teachers include Michael Mulcahy and Ron Prussing.

The five award recipients and their orchestras are:

Victoria Griswold, Violin
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Teddy Bear Series, introducing young children to orchestral instruments through story, live music, and movement

Jeff Handley, Principal Percussion
Chicago Sinfonietta
Audience Matters and SEED, in-school residency programs for students from underserved communities

Rebecca Patterson, Principal Cello
New Haven Symphony Orchestra
NHSO Harmony Fellowship Quartet / Recording Composition Class, for students from underrepresented communities

Donna Parkes, Principal Trombone
Louisville Orchestra
Teaching communication skills through music to children with hearing and speech impairments in a partnership with the Heuser Hearing Institute.

Rebecca Young, Associate Principal Viola
New York Philharmonic
Very Young People’s Concerts

About the Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service:

Now in its fourth year, the League’s Ford Musician Awards program, made possible by the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund, honors and celebrates professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary and meaningful service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement.

The musicians were selected by a panel of peer professionals through a competitive nomination process to receive the awards, which include a $2,500 grant to each musician, as well as an additional $2,500 grant to the musician’s home orchestra to support professional development focused on community service and engagement for musicians.

Previous Award Recipients:

2018 award recipients included Jeffrey Barker, associate principal flute, Seattle Symphony; John R. Beck, principal percussionist, Winston Salem Symphony; Jody Chaffee, Community Engagement Director, Flute, Firelands Symphony Orchestra; Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboe, Dallas Symphony Orchestra; and Juan R. Ramírez Hernández, Violin, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Videos of the 2018 awardees can be found here.

2017 award recipients included Mark Dix, viola, Phoenix Symphony; Michael Gordon, principal flute, Kansas City Symphony; Diane McElfish Helle, violin, Grand Rapids Symphony; Eunsoon Lee-Coroliss, assistant principal violist, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra; and Peter Zlotnick, education manager/principal timpani, Greensboro Symphony.
Videos of the 2017 awardees can be found here.

2016 award recipients included Penny Anderson Brill, viola, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Shannon Orme, bass clarinet, Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Jeffrey Paul, Principal Oboe, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra; Brian Prechtl, percussion, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and Beth Vandervennet, cello, Oakland Symphony.

This is the League’s second partnership project with Ford Motor Company Fund, which was the title sponsor of Ford Made in America, the largest commissioning consortium in the country’s history.

The Order Of Nature album to be released

We invited Jim James to collaborate on our Festival of American Music in 2018.  The result is an incredible new album to be released October 18. Recorded live, in one take, with no overdubs, The Order of Nature features YOUR Louisville Orchestra performing Jim James’ original music that Teddy Abrams orchestrated, and produced by Decca Gold.

Pre-orders are now being taken HERE.

2019-20 Season Announced


The Louisville Orchestra is proud to announce the 2019-2020 Season, the sixth under the galvanizing leadership of Music Director Teddy Abrams. The season concerts will feature innovative local and world premieres, collaboration with a renowned Gospel choir, a number of guest appearances by emerging stars in the orchestra world, and the culmination of a moving and powerful exhibit of violins rescued from the Holocaust. 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” is, Listen magazine notes, “putting the history-rich Louisville Orchestra – and classical music – back on the map.” As Time magazine says simply: “A genre-defying orchestra in Louisville? Believe it. The locals do.

Abrams will lead the LO in an opening weekend of concerts welcoming popular violinist ANNE AKIKO MEYERS  (Sep 27/28). Both musicians, together with Teddy Abrams were named to the “19 FOR 19: ARTISTS TO WATCH” list by New York Classical Radio WQXR.  Exploring the power of gospel music and the dynamic creativity of contemporary pop music in the “Fifth Annual Festival of American Music” (Feb 22 & March 13-14), the LO collaborates with the gospel choir of St. Stephen’s Baptist Church for Duke Ellington’s Three Black Kings. The city-wide exhibition Violins Of Hope culminates in a performance From the Diary of Anne Frank by Michael Tilson Thomas (Oct 25-26). Featuring violins rescued from the Holocaust, Violins Of Hope includes an exhibit, lectures, school programs and other concerts in and around Louisville in fall 2019. In addition to Tilson Thomas, contemporary composers Emmy-Award winner Garth Neustadter, Ljova, Anna Clyne, and Missy Mazzoli will have works performed with Louisville Orchestra premieres throughout the concert season.

The LO performs timeless masterworks of the orchestral repertory including the “New World Symphony” of Antonin Dvorak (Sep 28), La Mer by French composer Claude Debussy (Oct 11/12), Three Black Kings by Duke Ellington (Feb 22), and the monumental Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi (Apr 25). In “Teddy Talks Mahler” (Jan 17-18), Abrams continues his series of illuminating deconstructions of famous works of orchestral music and puts the spotlight on the contrasting messages of despair and ecstasy of the Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler.

Three notable guest conductors step up to the LO podium to make their first appearances locally. Vinay Parameswaran, the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, leads the LO on the journey of Don Quixote by Richard Strauss (Nov 22-23). Roderick Cox, winner of the 2018 Solti Conducting Fellowship (Jan 31/Feb 1), and Rei Hotoda, Music Director of the Fresno Symphony (Apr 1) each bring a strong and individual perspective to their work and will each offer a Louisville premiere and an orchestral masterwork.

Looking ahead to the new season, Music Director Teddy Abrams explains:

                “Each program on the 2019-20 season of the Louisville Orchestra is inspired by a single concept. We have a season-wide mission to combine cutting-edge projects with storytelling that connects with our shared human (and local) experiences. Even the traditional repertoire we’re presenting fits this narrative emphasis, from Dvorak’s 9th Symphony (mysteriously inspired by Mildred Hill, a musicologist from Louisville) to our annual “TeddyTalks,” a sub-textual breakdown of a musical work, in this case, the Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler.
“Our ardent commitment to living composers continues to grow next season with attention to diversity amongst the composers of our contemporary works. Our thematic programs include works based on “Water” with the music of Garth Neustadter and John Luther Adams, “Hope and History” featuring the inspirational “Violins of Hope” in Michael Tilson Thomas’ From the Diary of Anne Frank and “Gospel” featuring our local St. Stephen Choir, which is considered one of the greatest Gospel choirs in the United States.
“Some of our upcoming major projects include season-wide premieres of collaborations with dance, theater, and visual artists. We want the Louisville Orchestra to be a central forum for creativity in programming, which is something our wonderful community values deeply. We owe our audiences unique experiences that represent the best of Louisville’s cultural capabilities, and my hope is that this next season offers programs that inspire and unify the broadest of audiences possible in our town.”


In addition to the Classics Series, the orchestra plays an eight-concert Friday morning Coffee Series with music selected from the Classics Series concerts. Fans of the orchestra’s five-concert Pops Series will be treated to the music of movie blockbusters including Dr. Zhivago, Moon River, and Gone With the Wind in an evening of “Hollywood Hits” (Sep 21). Under the direction of Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, this set of concerts also includes our “Holiday Pops” (Nov 30), a tribute to the great music of Motown in “Dancing In The Streets” (Jan 25), and an evening with piano man Michael Cavanaugh as he plays and sings the songs of Elton John, Paul McCartney, the Eagles and more. The dazzling talents of Arrival from Sweden bring their “Tribute to ABBA” to Louisville for one thrilling night only on March 25, 2020.

The three-concert LO Family Series brings the joy of music to our youngsters with three concerts designed just for the 3- to 12-year-old set. Performances kick-off with a “Superheroes” theme (Oct 5 at the Brown Theatre) with all children invited to dress in costume as their favorite hero. Our annual holiday concert (Nov 30 at the Kentucky Center) is fun for the entire family; and reprising their performance from the 2017-18 season, Squallis Puppeteers join the LO for “Peter & The Wolf” (March 21 at the Brown Theatre) featuring those bigger than life puppets that make this Louisville-based company renowned for their creativity.


Discounted season ticket packages are now available by subscription. Renewing subscribers will be receiving invoices with “same seat” privileges in their mailboxes by the end of next week. Both renewals and new subscribers are welcome to call or order online to secure tickets for this dynamic concert season. Tickets for individual concerts in the 2019-2020 Season will be available on August 1, 2019.

Weekdays 9AM to 5PM
CALL:  502.587.8681  or Walk-in: Louisville Orchestra at 620 W. Main St., downtown Louisville




Teddy Abrams Signs 5-Year Contract

For Immediate Release

Five Year Contract for Music Director Teddy Abrams

Louisville, KY (3.20.2019)… The Louisville Orchestra Board of Directors, together with CEO, Robert Massey, are pleased to announce an unprecedented 5-year contract to extend the term of Teddy Abrams as Music Director. This extension from the usual 3-year contract renewal shows the organization’s confidence in the artistic direction and creative vision of the young conductor.

“We’re thrilled to make this extraordinary commitment to engaging Teddy until the 2024-2025 Season. His vision for the renaissance of the arts for our orchestra and our community is unique in the world,“ says John P. Malloy, President of the LO Board of Directors.

Abrams was named Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra in 2014, the youngest conductor ever named to that position with a major orchestra. He’s become a popular figure throughout Louisville while developing a national reputation for innovation and community building.

Since stepping onto the Louisville Orchestra podium, Abrams has built an impressive list of accomplishments including the release of “All In,” the LO’s first album in nearly 30 years, which reached #1 on the Classical Billboard chart. He has re-invigorated the orchestra’s historic leadership in commissioning new works and presenting world premieres. His own award-winning compositions have brought a diverse new audience to the Louisville Orchestra including The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, Unified Field, Kentucky Royal Fanfare (which was performed for Charles, Prince of Wales) and others. One of his first priorities was establishing a new concert series that took the orchestra into Louisville neighborhoods for performances in the Music Without Borders Series to expand the orchestra’s community impact. He also launched a 2-concert “Festival of American Music,” a musical challenge to audiences to expand the definition of concert music through an exploration of the American influences on the music of all genres.

Artistic collaboration has become a focus for Abrams’s work. Several of his most notable collaborators have been indie-rocker Jim James, Grammy-Award winning fiddler Michael Cleveland, folk singer-songwriter Will “Bonnie Prince Billy” Oldham, choreographers Adam Hoagland and Andrea Schermoly, filmmakers Dennis Scholl and Owsley Brown III, and many more. Abrams’s efforts to bring the Louisville arts community into collaborative projects have resulted in exceptional performances featuring individuals and local organizations including Louisville Ballet, University of Louisville musicians from the choral and jazz programs, artists from the Kentucky College of Art and Design, independent local artists such as rapper Jecorey “1200” Arthur, folk fiddler Scott Moore, folk cellist Ben Sollee, jazz singer Carly Johnson and others.

A passionate advocate for music education and mentoring, Abrams regularly conducts in-school masterclasses at middle and high schools, launched a select program to personally support serious high school students in their music pursuits, revitalized the Louisville Orchestra’s 78-year-old MakingMUSIC program of education concerts for elementary school children, crafted a recycling-creativity project for youngsters to make musical instruments from “trash” known as “Landfill Orchestra,” and is currently working with the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization (dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts) to mentor two talented young conductors.

In addition to his activities as Music Director for the Louisville Orchestra, Abrams is Music Director for the Britt Festival, a summer concert series based in Jacksonville, Oregon. He is in demand as a guest conductor and has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Orchestra, and the orchestras in Houston, Milwaukee, Vancouver, Colorado, Phoenix and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He served as assistant conductor of the Detroit Symphony from 2012 to 2014. From 2008 to 2011, Abrams was the Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, serving under his long-time mentor Michael Tilson Thomas.

An accomplished pianist and clarinetist, Abrams has appeared as soloist in Louisville and across the country. He also collaborates with a wide variety of musicians as keyboardist for both classical, indie-rock and pop concerts. He has held residencies at the La Mortella music festival in Ischia, Italy, and at the American Academy in Berlin. Abrams is a proud alumnus of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a bachelor of music degree, having studied piano with Paul Hersh.  Read his full bio HERE. Find photos of Teddy HERE


22 FEB 2020 :: Gospel music has shaped American music like no other and in this first concert of our Festival of American Music, Teddy and the LO are joined by one of the finest gospel choirs in the United States for a spectacular concert.

CONCERT TALK: Starting at 6:45PM in Whitney Hall, the LO, together with WUOL, offers a free, pre-concert discussion hosted by radio program direction Daniel Gilliam.

Edward “Duke” ELLINGTON:  Three Black Kings
VARIOUS:  Gospel selection with Orchestra TBA & Cory Henry Selections TBD

TEDDY ABRAMS, conductor
CORY HENRY, vocals and organ
Choir of St. Stephen’s Baptist Church