Announcing the 21-22 Season

Introducing the 2021-22 Season of “NEW BEGINNINGS”

Teddy Abrams and Louisville Orchestra Focus on “New Beginnings” in 2021-22, Celebrating Composers of Color, Women Composers, Latin American Music, and Numerous World Premieres, Including Abrams’s New Piano Concerto Performed by Yuja Wang

Now in its eighth season under the inspired and inspiring leadership of galvanizing young Music Director Teddy Abrams, the Louisville Orchestra celebrates diverse musical voices in 2021-22, with works by composers of color and women composers of three centuries; a three-part festival of Latin American music featuring world premieres by Angélica Negrón and Dafnis Prieto; and the first concert in a multi-season series exploring Black and Jewish music. A major highlight of the season is the worldpremiere of Abrams’s Piano Concerto, written for and featuring acclaimed pianist Yuja Wang. The season also features the world premiere of a Louisville Orchestra commission from rising young Louisville composer KiMani Bridges, a new edition of the popular “Teddy Talks…” series deconstructing Schubert’s “Great” Symphony No. 9, world-class guest conductors and soloists, and much more. Bob Bernhardt, Principal Pops Conductor, celebrates his 40th season with the Louisville Orchestra this year. He launches the 5-concert Pops Series with “Music of Prohibition” and celebrates his anniversary with a concert of music by John Williams. Attendance at all performances in the 2021-22 season is subject to currently recommended COVID-19 safety protocols.

Season tickets are now on sale for the Classics, Pops, Family, and Coffee Concert Series.

Engaging with the orchestra’s remarkable past while keeping it at the center of today’s vibrant Louisville music scene, Abrams’s “tireless advocacy and community outreach” are, Listen magazine notes, “putting the history-rich Louisville Orchestra – and classical music – back on the map.” Looking ahead to the new season, the conductor explains

Throughout the past year the Louisville Orchestra has reaffirmed its aspirations to function as a core civic service in Louisville, to help lead our community into a new era of growth and creativity. The 2021-22 season is a reflection and amplification of these values. Despite the challenges our city and nation have faced, we felt strongly that a significant and ambitious investment in creative programming was the best thing we could offer Louisville. Our commitments to equity and commissioning new work (derived from the Orchestra’s long history of leading in these fields) are intertwined: world premieres from seven local musicians to memorialize the pandemic era are juxtaposed with commissions from composers such as Dafnis Prieto, Angélica Negrón, Adam Schoenberg, and KiMani Bridges. Our annual Festival of American Music focuses on Latin America this season. Dafnis Prieto’s new work is a highlight of the Festival: it will be a danceable concerto grosso for a 10-member Cuban timba band and orchestra. We also begin a four-year exploration of the relationship between Jewish and Black composers, revealing interconnected narratives and mutual inspiration as we rediscover pieces that were suppressed or forgotten from composers of both backgrounds. I’m also very excited about the premiere of my own new work – a monstrously virtuosic piano concerto I’ve written for my friend Yuja Wang.

Yuja Wang Plays Abrams

The Financial Times says of Yuja Wang: “Her combination of technical ease, colouristic range and sheer power has always been remarkable … but these days there is an ever-greater depth to her musicianship, drawing you into the world of each composer with compelling immediacy.” Formerly a classmate of Abrams at the Curtis Institute of Music, she appeared with the orchestra in 2017 – the same year she was named “Artist of the Year” by Musical America – to celebrate its 80th anniversary with a rapturously received performance of Rachmaninoff’s Fourth Piano Concerto. She performs the world premiere of Abrams’s new Piano Concerto, written expressly for her, on a program that also includes Rachmaninoff’s Tchaikovsky-inspired Symphony No. 2 (Jan 8).

Opening night: A Concert for Unity

Throughout his tenure as Music Director, Abrams has envisioned the Louisville Orchestra as a focal point, an artistic home inclusive of the entire population of the city. The distress of the community following the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor in early 2020 and the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests inspired a recent livestreamed concert in collaboration with hip-hop artist, activist and Louisville Metro Councilperson Jecorey Arthur charting the history of Black music in America. An NPR interview with Abrams and Arthur about that performance can be found here. As Abrams said:

“As we rebuild … you want the artists to be leading those conversations. They’re the ones that see clearly the connections between people and strive to break those barriers down.”

In keeping with that sentiment and the theme of inclusion, the Classics series opens with “A Concert for Unity” (Oct 2), headlined by Valerie Coleman’s celebrated UMOJA, Anthem for Unity, as well as a roster of local guests artists performing world premiere songs that reflect on the past year. Rounding out the program is Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony. Coleman, a native of Louisville, was named Performance Today’s “Classical Woman of the Year” for 2020, and UMOJA was named one of the “Top 101 Great American Ensemble Works” by Chamber Music America.

Festival of Latin American Music

It was the inaugural edition of the Louisville Orchestra’s Festival of American Music that prompted Arts-Louisville to conclude: “The orchestra, specifically this orchestra, is a living, breathing, evolving, and relevant art form.” This season’s festival looks south to Latin America: joining the orchestra for the first of the two concerts (March 5) will be the salsa band People of Earth, performing the world premiere of the Concerto for People of Earth and String Orchestra by Grammy- and MacArthur Fellowship-winning Cuban composer Dafnis Prieto, co-commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra. Also on the bill is a world premiere commission from Puerto Rico native Angélica Negrón, and those two new commissions are balanced by a Louisville Orchestra commission from almost 70 years ago: Villa-Lobos’s evocative overture Alvorada na floresta tropical. Latin American music as filtered through the imagination of Leonard Bernstein completes the program in the form of the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.

The second program of the Festival includes two Latin American-inspired works by North Americans: Copland’s El Salón México, a tribute to a Mexican nightclub he experienced in the company of Mexican composer Carlos Chávez, and Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, written after a two-week stay in Havana. Two Mexican works, Arturo Márquez’s Danzon No. 2 and José Pablo Moncayo’s Cumbres, the latter another early commission by the Louisville Orchestra, are also on the program, along with Concertino Cusqueño by Gabriela Lena Frank, a 21st-century exponent of Latin American sounds who often draws inspiration from her mother’s Peruvian heritage.

Reclaimed Treasures: Connections Between Black and Jewish Music

On April 30, Abrams and the orchestra give a performance exploring the commonalities between Black and Jewish music, the first in a projected multi-season series. Featured on the concert is violinist Julia Noone, assistant concertmaster of the Louisville Orchestra, performing Korngold’s D-major Violin Concerto. Also on the program is the Louisville Orchestra-commissioned Notturno by Ernst Toch, who like Korngold fled his native Austria after the rise of the Nazis but whose fame did not survive his transplantation to the U.S. Crowning the program, the Louisville Chamber Choir and soloists to be announced perform the spectacular oratorio The Ordering of Moses by R. Nathaniel Dett, one of the first conservatory-trained Black musicians in the U.S. He studied at Oberlin Conservatory and with Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France, before earning his Master of Music degree from Eastman. The oratorio, considered his greatest work, was premiered by the Cincinnati Symphony during the May Festival in 1937 and broadcast nationwide, which may have marked the first network broadcast of a major work by a Black composer; unfortunately the broadcast was interrupted two-thirds of the way through for an unknown reason, speculated to be listener complaints.

Fantastique: KiMani Bridges world premiere plus Adam Schoenberg

The orchestra’s season finale (May 14) features a Louisville Orchestra-commissioned work by KiMani Bridges, a freshman at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Winner of several young composer competitions, including the 2020 G. Schirmer Prize, established to recognize students in Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid’s Luna Composition Lab, Bridges will also have her work performed in the “Celebrating Young Talent” concert on the Music Without Borders series (see below). Also on the program is the world premiere of Automation by Adam Schoenberg, an Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated composer who has twice ranked among the top 10 most performed living composers in the U.S. Featuring cellist Yves Dharamraj, Automation is a double concerto for cello, pre-recorded digital cello and orchestra that also incorporates multimedia visuals. Rounding out the season finale program is Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

Teddy Talks: Schubert

The popular “Teddy Talks…” series focuses in 2021-22 on Franz Schubert’s “Great” Symphony No. 9, which marked a revolutionary advance in terms of length, complexity, and formal and harmonic innovation (Oct 30). Now entering its fourth season after a hiatus for the pandemic, the “Teddy Talks…” series is a natural development of Abrams’s engagement with the Louisville community and his insistence on making the orchestra and its music accessible to all. He provides the audience with a window into the mind of the composer, entertainingly deconstructing the music before reassembling it in a full performance after an intermission. According to Arts-Louisville, his exposition of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony made “a good case against the decline of classical music,” leaving the critic “absolutely enthralled.”

Rounding out the Classics Series

The Classics series also includes three concerts featuring guest conductors. “Schumann & Brahms” (Nov 20) will be led by Edwin Outwater, former Music Director of Canada’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and former resident conductor at the San Francisco Symphony, who Michael Tilson Thomas called “one of the most innovative conductors on the scene today.” Featured in Schumann’s Piano Concerto is Mexican pianist Jorge Federico Osorio, praised by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the more elegant and accomplished pianists on the planet.” Also on the program are an overture by Louise Farrenc, a relatively unsung composer who was the only woman appointed as professor at the Paris Conservatory in all of the nineteenth century; Lutosławski’s Little Suite; and Brahms’s Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn.

Conductor Rei Hotoda, the Music Director of the Fresno Philharmonic called “an inexhaustible dynamo” by Spokane’s Spokesman-Review, leads a program (Jan 29) juxtaposing Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome with Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony and Lili Boulanger’s D’un matin de printemps (“Of a Spring Morning”). Finally, rising star conductor Jonathon Heyward, recently named Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, leads violinist Ben Beilman – praised by the New York Times for his “handsome technique, burnished sound, and quiet confidence” – as soloist in Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto, along with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade and Kanashibari by British composer Hannah Kendall (April 2). Heyward’s debut with the Seattle Symphony in 2019 included the U.S. premiere of another of Kendall’s works, and he conducted the U.S. premiere of Kanashibari with the same orchestra this past spring.

The Louisville Orchestra’s Classics Series is made possible by the generous support of the Brown-Forman Foundation.

Music Without Borders Series

The Music Without Borders series, which takes the orchestra and Abrams’s creative programming out of the concert hall and into the community, begins its season with an Abrams-led program titled “Backward Glances” (Oct 14-16), featuring music by twentieth century composers who took their inspiration from the past. The Capricorn Concerto for flute, oboe, and trumpet, an early work by Samuel Barber, shows the strong influence of Bach. Erwin Schulhoff’s Concerto for String Quartet and Wind Orchestra is modeled after the Baroque concerto grosso, but inverts the ratio of winds to strings, and Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella marked the beginning of his neoclassical period. Also in the fall, Louisville Orchestra concertmaster Gabriel Lefkowitz leads a program of “Baroque and Classical Jewels” (Nov 11-16), featuring music by Rameau, Vivaldi, and Bach, as well as Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony.

Abrams takes the podium once again for the program “Celebrating Young Talent” (Jan 20-22), featuring pianist Michelle Cann – who made her orchestral debut at age 14 – performing Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, as well as the Louisville Orchestra-commissioned work that KiMani Bridges wrote in her first year out of high school, also programmed in the Classics series. The program is rounded out by Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8.

The final concert in the Music Without Borders series, “Concierto de Aranjuez” (Mar 25-27), is conducted by Kalena Bovell, Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony and Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony. Part of the Festival of Latin American Music, the performance includes the beloved Rodrigo piece of the same name performed by guitarist Stephen Mattingly, a founding member of the Tantalus Quartet who directs classical guitar studies at the University of Louisville. Bizet’s Suite No. 1 from Carmen and Ginastera’s Variaciones concertantes complete the program.

 

About the Louisville Orchestra

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 music by living composers, thereby earning a place on the international circuit. 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 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, and their last two albums for the Decca Gold label, All In (2017) and The Order of Nature (2019) – the latter launched with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – both topped the Billboard Classical and Crossover charts. The feature-length, Gramophone Award-winning documentary Music Makes a City (2010) chronicles the Louisville Orchestra’s founding years, and in spring 2018, Teddy Abrams and the orchestra were profiled on the popular television program CBS Sunday Morning.

High-resolution photos are available here.

A video of our zoom conference with Teddy Abrams announcing the season is available on YouTube:LINK TO VIEW

LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA
2021-22 CLASSICS, POPS, MUSIC WITHOUT BORDERS, FAMILY, AND COFFEE SERIES

Except where noted, all concerts take place at 8pm at the Kentucky Center for the Arts

SAT 2 OCT 2021
Classics Series
A CONCERT FOR UNITY

Teddy Abrams, conductor

VALERIE COLEMAN: UMOJA, Anthem for Unity
TBD with guest artists: world premiere songs written ad performed reflecting on the past year
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique”)

14-16 OCT 2021
Music Without Borders Series
Locations and times TBD
BACKWARD GLANCES

Teddy Abrams, conductor
TBD, guest artists

STRAVINSKY: Pulcinella Suite
BARBER: Capricorn Concerto for flute, oboe, and trumpet
SCHULHOFF: Concerto for String Quartet and Wind Orchestra

SAT 23 OCT 2021
Pops Series
MUSIC OF PROHIBITION

Bob Bernhardt, conductor

Music of the Roaring 20s including Kurt Weil, King Oliver, and more.

SAT 30 OCT 2021
Classics Series
TEDDY TALKS SCHUBERT

Teddy Abrams, conductor

SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 9 in C (“The Great”)

11-16 NOV 2021
Music Without Borders Series
Locations and times TBD
BAROQUE AND CLASSICAL JEWELS

Gabriel Lefkowitz, conductor
Nicholas Finch and Lillian Pettitt, cellos
Kathleen Karr and Jake Chabot, flutes

RAMEAU (arr. d’Indy): Overture to Zaïs
VIVALDI: Concerto for Two Cellos
BACH: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 for two recorders, violin and continuo
MOZART: Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”)

SAT 20 NOV 2021
Classics Series
SCHUMANN & BRAHMS  

Edwin Outwater, conductor
Jorge Federico Osorio, piano

FARRENC: Overture No. 2, Op. 24 in E-flat
SCHUMANN: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
LUTOSŁAWSKI: Little Suite (“Mała suita”)
BRAHMS: Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn (“St. Anthony Variations”)

 

SAT 27 NOV 2021  11AM
Family Series
JINGLE BELL CONCERT

Bob Bernhardt, conductor

Economical matinee performance with a program for kids of all ages!

SAT 27 NOV 2021
Pops Series
HOLIDAY POPS

Bob Bernhardt, conductor

Holiday favorites for the entire family!

 

FRI 7 JAN 2022  11AM
Coffee Series
YUJA WANG PREMIERES ABRAMS CONCERTO

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Yuja Wang, piano

TEDDY ABRAMS: Piano Concerto (world premiere)
RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 2 – selected movements

SAT 8 JAN 2022
Classics Series
YUJA WANG PREMIERES ABRAMS CONCERTO

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Yuja Wang, piano

TEDDY ABRAMS: Piano Concerto (world premiere)
RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 2

SAT 15 JAN 2022
Pops Series
IRRESISTIBLE JOHN WILLIAMS

Bob Bernhardt, conductor
Bernhardt conducts his favorite music by his favorite composer.

40th Anniversary Celebration

20-22 JAN 2022
Music Without Borders Series
Locations and times TBD
CELEBRATING YOUNG TALENT

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Michelle Cann, piano

KIMANI BRIDGES: New work (world premiere, LO commission)
GERSHWIN: Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 8

SUN 23 JAN 2022  3PM
Family Series
Brown Theater
PETER AND THE WOLF

Robert Franz, conductor

A classic family favorite.

FRI 28 JAN 2022 11AM
Coffee Series
PINES OF ROME

Rei Hotoda, conductor

BOULANGER: D’un matin de printemps (“A Spring Morning”)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 8
RESPIGHI: Pines of Rome

SAT 29 JAN 2022
Classics Series
PINES OF ROME

Rei Hotoda, conductor

BOULANGER: D’un matin de printemps (“A Spring Morning”)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 8
RESPIGHI: Fountains of Rome
RESPIGHI: Pines of Rome

FRI 4 MAR 2022  11AM
Coffee Series
FESTIVAL OF LATIN AMERICAN MUSIC 1

Teddy Abrams, conductor
People of Earth

VILLA-LOBOS: Alvorada na floresta tropical (“Dawn in a Tropical Forest”) (First Edition 1954)
DAFNIS PRIETO: Concerto for People of Earth and String Orchestra (world premiere, LO co-commission)
ANGÉLICA NEGRÓN: New work TBA (world premiere, LO commission)
BERNSTEIN: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

SAT 5 MAR 2022
Classics Series
FESTIVAL OF LATIN AMERICAN MUSIC 1

Teddy Abrams, conductor
People of Earth

VILLA-LOBOS: Alvorada na floresta tropical (“Dawn in a Tropical Forest”) (First Edition 1954)
DAFNIS PRIETO: Concerto for People of Earth and String Orchestra (world premiere, LO co-commission)
ANGÉLICA NEGRÓN: New work TBA (world premiere, LO commission)
BERNSTEIN: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

FRI 11 MAR 2022  11AM
Coffee Series
FESTIVAL OF LATIN AMERICAN MUSIC 2

Teddy Abrams, conductor

COPLAND: El Salón México
GABRIELA LENA FRANK: Concertino Cusqueño
MONCAYO: Cumbres (First Edition 1954)
CLARICE ASSAD: Nhanderú
ARTURO MARQUEZ: Danzón No. 2
GERSHWIN: Cuban Overture

SAT 12 MAR 2022
Classics Series
FESTIVAL OF LATIN AMERICAN MUSIC 2

Teddy Abrams, conductor

COPLAND: El Salón México
GABRIELA LENA FRANK: Concertino Cusqueño
MONCAYO: Cumbres  (First Edition 1954)
MARQUEZ: Danzón No. 2
GERSHWIN: Cuban Overture

SAT 19 MAR 2022
Pops Series
A TRIBUTE TO ABBA 

Bob Bernhardt, conductor

Featuring the #1 ABBA tribute band “Arrival”

25-26 MAR 2022
Music Without Borders Series
A Festival of Latin American Music Concert
Locations and times TBD
CONCIERTO DE ARANJUEZ

Kalena Bovell, conductor
Stephen Mattingly, guitar

BIZET: Suite No. 1 from Carmen
RODRIGO: Concierto de Aranjuez
GINASTERA: Variaciones concertantes

SUN 27 MAR 2022  3PM
Family Series
EXPLORING THE ORCHESTRA 

Robert Franz, conductor

Featuring the “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.”

FRI 1 APR  2022  11AM
Coffee Series
SHEHERAZADE

Jonathon Heyward, conductor

HANNAH KENDALL: Kanashibari
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Sheherazade

SAT 2 APR 2022 
Classics Series
SHEHERAZADE

Jonathon Heyward, conductor
Benjamin Beilman, violin

HANNAH KENDALL: Kanashibari
PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 1
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Sheherazade

SAT 22 APR 2022
Pops Series
MICHAEL CAVANAUGH PLAYS THE MUSIC OF ELTON JOHN

Bob Bernhardt, conductor
Michael Cavanaugh, piano and vocals

Top hits of Elton John performed by a charismatic piano man.

SAT 30 APR 2022
Classics Series
RECLAIMED TREASURES

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Julia Noone, violin
Louisville Chamber Choir
TBD, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Baritone

TOCH: Notturno, Op. 77 (First Edition 1954)
KORNGOLD: Concerto for Violin in D
DETT: The Ordering of Moses: A Sacred Oratorio for Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra

FRI 13 MAY 2022  11AM 
Coffee Series
FANTASTIQUE

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Yves Dharamraj, cello

ADAM SCHOENBERG: Automation (world premiere)
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique – selected movements

SAT 14 MAY 2022
Classics Series
FANTASTIQUE

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Yves Dharamraj, cello

KIMANI BRIDGES: New work (world premiere, LO commission)
ADAM SCHOENBERG: Automation (world premiere)
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique

All dates, programs, and artists are subject to change