Louisville Broadcast


Contact: Jacob Gotlib | jgotlib@louisvilleorchestra.org 

On April 23, 2023, The Louisville Orchestra presented LO Creators Corps composer Lisa Bielawa’s Louisville Broadcast, a new 45-minute musical piece for an unlimited number of participants that celebrated two historic sites and the vitality of Louisville’s many musical communities. Two free performances occurred in Shelby Park and Waterfront Park-Big Four Bridge. Bielawa created the piece specifically for these sites, transforming them into vast musical canvases.

Louisville Broadcast featured hundreds of musicians, celebrating the diversity of Louisville’s musical life. A varied roster of over 400 professional, student, and amateur musicians from throughout Jefferson County joined together for the performances, including members of the LO, students and parents from the Louisville Academy of Music, the Louisville Civic Orchestra, the University of Louisville Orchestra, VOICES of Kentuckiana choir, the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, the Louisville Drumline Academy, and ensembles from several JCPS schools: Male High School, Moore High School, Johnson Middle School, as well as the Louisville Classical Academy.

Additionally, Bielawa and the LO helped form The Town Criers, a community choir that anyone could join regardless of musical background. Bielawa composed music for the Town Criers that was easy to learn without any music-reading skills or training, accessible to anyone who wished to raise their voice and join the performances.

The texts Bielawa set in Louisville Broadcast – sung by several participating ensembles — were collected from Louisville residents who submitted responses to the Louisville Orchestra’s website. In addition, Bielawa incorporated texts from oral histories about the Shelby Park neighborhood, as told by longtime Shelby Park residents in interviews.

Bielawa chose Shelby Park and the Big Four Bridge as performance sites for their historical significance to Louisville. Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm designed Shelby Park in 1907, the only park in Louisville designed explicitly with a Carnegie Library (now the Shelby Park Community Center). It is the geographic anchor of the Shelby Park neighborhood, where the LO has established residences for the Creators Corps (including Bielawa). From 1895 to its decommission in 1969, the Big Four Bridge was a railroad bridge connecting Louisville and Southern Indiana for freight and passengers. It was converted into a pedestrian bridge in 2013 and has since become an iconic landmark in the city, with 1.5 million pedestrians and cyclists crossing its span each year.

“The goal of Louisville Broadcast was to interpret and celebrate these important public spaces in Louisville, allowing listeners to draw their own meaning and experience from them,” said Bielawa. “I envisioned this event bringing about new partnerships, new vitality, and new relationships between different generations, musical traditions and identities, and between arts or music lovers and non-arts-identified park-goers enjoying a surprise encounter with music as a ‘happening’ in the middle of their familiar and beloved city. By inviting anyone in the city to contribute their words to be sung by the participating choirs, I could multiply the diversity of Louisvillian voices that speak through the piece. It is the sound of a whole city’s history, people, neighborhoods, and communities.”

The nature of Bielawa’s work is in keeping with the definition of the word broadcast, “cast or scattered in all directions.” Musicians began in the center of the sites and dispersed outwards according to instructions in Bielawa’s musical score, coordinated only by absolute time and long-distance musical cues. Players spread out in long chains, flanking the walkways and bridge. Audience members chose how to hear the pieces, deciding where to move as the musicians disperse. They took in several different points of view from throughout the site during the performances.

Louisville Broadcast resulted from a collaboration between the Louisville Orchestra and several community organizations, including the Louisville Academy of Music, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Metro Parks, and Waterfront Park.


View a short video of the Broadcast here