Dear Friends,

I am delighted to be writing to you about two wonderful programs being offered by the Louisville Orchestra this month, and about the terrific guest artists who will be joining us at the Whitney.

First, our Classics Series continues with two important masterworks, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade and Prokofiev’s “Violin Concerto #1,” compositions that bridge the Late Romantic era into the 20th Century.  Sheherazade is among the most famous and most popular symphonic suites ever written. Composed in 1888, the suite has four movements with themes that recur throughout, and offers solos to many of the principal players in the orchestra, most notably, the concertmaster. It’s based upon the extraordinary tales woven by the beautiful princess, Sheherazade, in One Thousand and One Nights and combines two of Rimsky-Korsakov’s great strengths and interests: brilliant orchestration and Orientalism.

Sergei Prokofiev began composing his first violin concerto in 1915, put it aside to compose an opera, and then went back to it in 1917. It was premiered in 1923 in Paris with Serge Koussevitzky conducting at the same concert at which Igor Stravinsky made his debut as a conductor (in the premiere of his amazing Octet). The concerto is in three movements, it starts and ends in ethereal beauty, with a barn-burner of a scherzo in the middle!

Two brilliant and rising young stars make their debuts with the LO on this concert, the conductor Jonathon Heyward and the violinist Benjamin Beilman. Maestro Heyward’s rise has been meteoric. He served for three years as assistant conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in England and was named Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in the summer of 2021. He has an astoundingly busy schedule conducting orchestras throughout Europe and North America, and we’re lucky that it includes us!

No less than the New York Times has described Benjamin Beilman’s playing as having “handsome technique, burnished sound, and quiet confidence (which) showed why he has come so far so fast.” His is the sort of all-around virtuosity that will make glorious the many demands of the Prokofiev, from nuanced pianissimos to brutal edginess. Two great artists making their LO debuts!

The other program, which I have the pleasure to conduct on our Pops Series, is the great Michael Cavanaugh, pianist and vocalist, playing the music of Elton John. Cavanaugh was famously chosen by Billy Joel to play, well, Billy Joel in the Broadway musical “Movin’ Out” which he headlined for three years and more than 1200 performances. His voice, his keyboard skills, and his amazing energy will make this an Elton John tribute to remember…and it’s possible that a couple Billy Joel tunes may show up as well!

Welcome to the Whitney, everyone! I hope you enjoy every minute of every program, and as always, thank you for your support. We can’t do it without you.

Enjoy the performances!


Bob Bernhardt,
Principal Pops Conductor