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Creators Fest 2024

Saturday, May 11, 2024 7:30pm

Event Description

Throughout their year-long residency with the LO, the Creators have crafted original compositions inspired by their experiences living in Louisville and the vibrant community that surrounds them. This year, we are excited to showcase three World Premieres by Alex Berko, Tanner Porter, and Nkeiru Okoye at a two-day festival, Creators Fest. This festival of Creativity will offer not only a unique opportunity to experience these compositions but also to engage with local musicians, artists, and storytellers throughout the day in the lobby of the Kentucky Center. Keep reading to learn more about these new pieces.

Festival Schedule:

3:00–5:30 pm

Free performances by Louisville Orchestra soloists, Louisville Orchestra staff soloists, Sistah La La, Dr. Kellie Brown, and Ellie Ruth will take place in the lobby of the Kentucky Center from 3–5:30 pm!

6:15–6:45 pm

Join us for an engaging pre-concert talk, hosted by Daniel Gilliam, renowned host for WUOL. This exclusive event offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative processes of three distinguished composers featured at Creators Fest 2024: Alex Berko, Nkeiru Okoye, and Tanner Porter. Delve into the stories behind their world premieres, explore their inspirations, and discover the intricate journey of bringing their compositions to life.

7:30 pm

Concert at Whitney Hall

Creators Fest Program


ALEX BERKO Heirlooms

  1. Telling the Bees
  2. Heavenly People
  3. Laura’s Letter

TRADITIONAL Barbara Allen (prelude)

TANNER PORTER True Lover’s Knot

  1. May Rising
  2. Hard-Hearted
  3. Fever
  4. True Lover’s Knot
  5. A Chime, Not a Knell

NKEIRU OKOYE Passing by the River

GERSHWIN Concerto for Piano in F
Stewart Goodyear, piano

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio – Andante con moto
  3. Allegro agitato

Hear from our creators:

Alex Berko World Premiere

Heirlooms is a piece about remembrance. It is a piece about how we live through physical mementos that are left behind; how they represent a part of our personalities, a moment in time, a particular life event. Written in three parts for eight singers and orchestra, each movement draws inspiration from someone with a connection to Kentucky and/or Appalachia.

Through each of these stories (a beekeeper, an artist, and a granddaughter), we get a sense of where each writer is from, how they love, how they grieve, and what rituals they create to remember those who have passed on. It is my hope that this piece itself serves as an heirloom.

Text by Rūta Kuzmickas, Alex Berko, and Laura Berko based on stories written by and about Dr. Kellie D. Brown, Julie Baldyga, and the Louisville Story Program.

— Alex Berko

Tanner Porter World Premiere

True Lover’s Knot reimagines “Barbara Allen,” the beloved traditional ballad (Child 84) that dates back to the 17th century. Specifically, it is based on the version sung by the late, great Kentuckian Jean Ritchie, “Barbry Ellen.” Although there are many versions of “Barbara Allen,” the underlying themes of each are similar. The ballad tells the tragic story of two lovers— young William Greene, who, on his deathbed, asks for the affection of his scorned love, Barbara Allen. She refuses him, but when she hears the knelling of his death bell, she too perishes of a broken heart. Their love is honored in the afterlife when a red rose grows out of his grave, and out of hers, a green briar entwines in a true lover’s knot. It’s a story of pride, the bitter reluctance of the broken-hearted to forgive, and the complexities of loneliness and guilt. In reimagining this story as a new song cycle, I wanted to use the imagery of the original ballad to offer a version where the two reconcile and live on. In my version, the pride of the jilted lover is eased, the death bells of the original ballad are turned to wedding bells, and the true lover’s knot that was found only in the grave is found instead in life.

–Tanner Porter

Nkeiru Okoye World Premiere – Passing by the River

“Passing by the River” is about nostalgia, whether memories of a triumph or memories of a loss. Its title is derived from the repeating hymn-like melody, with the lyrics I wrote shared below. The piece is quite personal as it reflects summers of my high school years when I competed and won the gold medal in the NAACP ACT-SO annual competitions. With each medal, a recording of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man was played, with its lush, but spare Americana sound. These early experiences gave me the fortitude to pursue my passion for composition and forge ahead. While the work was originally scored for electronic orchestra, I revised it recently for live players. Tonight’s performance marks the world premiere of the orchestral version.

— Nkeiru Okoye

As we’re passing by the river,
Memories flood of moments past

Reverent sorrow mists to dew drops
Knowing he’s gone home at last.

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Lead Funding for LOCC provided by: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Additional significant support provided by:
Owsley Brown II Family Foundation
Owsley Brown III Philanthropic Foundation
William M Wood Foundation
William and Susan Yarmuth
Edie Nixon
Ted and Mary Nixon

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Event Venue

Whitney Hall at the Kentucky Performing Arts Center
501 W Main St
Louisville, 40202 United States