In Memorium: James A. Rago

 James A. Rago, 79, passed away on October 13, 2022. Jim was born in New York and grew up in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. He moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1967 having been recruited by Jorge Mester, then conductor of the Louisville Orchestra. Jim performed as Principal Timpanist for the orchestra from 1967 – 2022. He was the longest-tenured current member of the Orchestra, having performed for 55 years.

Jim graduated from Lyndhurst High School, New Jersey, and entered The Juilliard School of Music in 1961, graduating with a master’s degree in 1967. He studied percussion under the acclaimed Saul Goodman, who revolutionized the design of the timpani and the art of playing, and Anthony Cirone, past Principal Percussionist with the San Francisco Symphony, who, as a high school friend, inspired him to apply to Juilliard. Jim performed at the Aspen Music Festival for many years. He was a consummate professional with exceptional musicianship, who taught a generation of students as a professor of music at the University of Louisville for 30 years. He especially enjoyed jazz and the big band sound, but classical music was his passion.

Jim loved life. To his family and friends, “Jimmy” was a smart and funny man who always taught you something. Jim was a loving husband, father and “Papa”. He loved the Yankees, watching boxing (especially Muhammed Ali), and cooking Italian dinners. He learned to make authentic Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs from his mother!

He loved being at home with his family. He said that outside the orchestra, life was all about family. He enjoyed each of his children and grandchildren and all the birthdays, holidays, ball games, and graduations that raising a big family entails. He also dabbled in oil painting and singing with the church choir. His philosophy of life was to be patient, work hard and you will find your place.

Jim’s life of giving musical gifts to the Louisville community will be greatly missed. He is preceded in passing by his parents, James Rago, Sr. and Helen Puntilillo Rago. He is survived by his loving wife of 29 years Cheryl Rago, his children Angela Gordon (Ron), Susan Epps (J.R.), Carole Jenkins (David), Jeff Maddox (Patti) and Amy Stewart (Tony.) He is also proud of his grandchildren Austin and Alyssa Gordon, William and Jenna French, Frederick and Vincent Jenkins, Beatty Duncan (Autumn), Cooper Duncan, Parker, Gunnar, and J.D. Maddox. He is also survived by his sisters Helen Lang (Billy) and Linda Oatis (Rick). The family requests memorial gifts be made to The Louisville Orchestra at

Free Music/Storytelling Events for Families

Louisville Free Public Library and Louisville Orchestra
Collaborate to Bring Music and Reading to Families throughout Metro Louisville

The Louisville Free Public Library and the Louisville Orchestra are pleased to announce the second season of the collaborative project “Once Upon An Orchestra.” Seventeen free, public performances begin on Saturday, October 1 at the Portland Library and continue through February 2023 presented throughout Metro Louisville. The schedule is listed below.

Presented free, each branch will host one of six different, unique family programs that weave music and storytelling together in an interactive experience. Louisville Orchestra musicians perform music to fire the imagination around familiar and beloved stories for children. The hour-long experiences include a 30-minute small ensemble performance preceded by a hands-on activity to build a musical instrument from recycled materials. Everyone can be part of the music-making!

TJ Cole and Tyler Taylor, composers from the LO Creators Corps, are developing new musical scores to highlight beloved children’s books including Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, the traditional classic Peter and the Wolf, Matthew Forsythe’s Mina, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and more. Detailed biographies of the two participating Creators Corps members are listed below.

“We are excited to be truly deepening the partnership between LO and LFPL to provide impactful programming using music to support early childhood literacy,” says LO Education and Community Engagement Director Sarah Lempke O’Hare. “It is a privilege to be able to partner
with every LFPL branch and their communities building the love for music for all families.”

The musically enhanced storytelling leans into one of the key programs of the LFPL, the 1000Books Before Kindergarten Challenge. This Library program encourages all families and caregivers to read at least 1000 books with their preschool-age children to build the vocabulary and language skills needed for success in school.“One of the Library’s primary goals is to encourage reading at all ages. Through this partnership with the Louisville Orchestra, we are able to provide families with an immersive storytelling experience that combines early literacy skills with music in a way that educates, entertains, and inspires,” said Library Director Lee Burchfield.

Co-presented by the Louisville Orchestra and the Louisville Free Public Library, “Once Upon An Orchestra” is funded with primary support from the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation and the Metro Louisville HeARTS initiative. HeARTS is a multi-faceted program to help achieve Metro Louisville’s goal of Building Community and Healing after the challenges of the last several years – unifying and inspiring neighbors in the unique way of the arts. The Library Foundation, founded in 1980, is a donor-driven nonprofit corporation dedicated to supporting access to knowledge, ideas, information, and the pursuit of learning through the Louisville Free Public Library system.

“We make it a priority to support programs like ‘Once Upon an Orchestra,’ ensuring free access to inspiring arts experiences for children and families throughout Louisville,” said Library Foundation Executive Director Chandra Gordon. “Our libraries are a special kind of place – unique
hubs in our neighborhoods, open to everyone, with resources and programming that enrich our lives.”
For more information about the free program and schedule, please contact your branch of the Louisville Free Public Library or the Louisville Orchestra at 502.587.8681.

FREE CONCERTS From the “HeARTS” Initiative

The Louisville Orchestra is pleased to announce a brand-new series of free concerts as the LO’s MUSIC WITHOUT BORDERS series is presented throughout Metro Louisville with nine performances across the California, Shelby Park, and Jeffersontown neighborhoods. No tickets are required.

Presented with the support of Jim and Irene Karp, Louisville Metro’s HeARTS program, and the Fund for the Arts, our traditional MUSIC WITHOUT BORDERS concerts are offered with a brand-new expansion for the 2022-2023 season. All concerts will be free – removing the economic barriers to enjoying the essential public service that the LO represents. The multi-faceted program will help achieve Metro Louisville’s goal of Building Community and Healing after the challenges of the last several years – unifying and inspiring neighbors in the unique way of the arts.

Music Director Teddy Abrams explains, “The journey toward reinventing the Louisville Orchestra as an essential public service for our city has re-centered us to use all our creative power to affect momentous cultural change. We strive to make the LO truly an orchestra of and for the people. Our city will thrive by finding the communal inspiration and strength necessary to confront whatever challenges we face in the future. Music Without Borders is our vehicle to accelerate community recovery and connection.”

In its new format, the Music Without Borders programs will emphasize appearances by the LO in selected neighborhoods. Returning at least every three months throughout the concert season to specific venues, the LO will surround the concerts with a wide range of orchestral music and activities for residents seeking creative enrichment and a place to gather and share in the arts. A full schedule will be announced.

For the 2022-2023 season, the neighborhoods chosen for these concerts reflect the diverse range of Louisville’s residents. Venues included for these concerts (more will be added throughout the season) are the California Community Center (1600 West St. Catherine Street in California Park, 40210), the Logan Street Market (1001 Logan Street in Shelby Park, 40204), The Jeffersonian (10617 Taylorsville Rd, Jeffersontown 40299), the Iroquois Amphitheater (1080 Amphitheater Rd, South Louisville 40214), and Shawnee Park (4501 W. Broadway in West Louisville, 40211).

Additional Community Activities

In addition to concerts, an array of arts activities will surround the performances building connections within the selected communities through in-school activities, musician engagements in community centers, integration with the LO Creators Corps program, and music-making at all levels.

The LO’s second year presenting the “Once Upon An Orchestra” concerts in conjunction with the Louisville Free Public Libraries offers another part of this free concert and outreach effort. Last season 21 storytelling-with-music concerts were presented by LO ensembles and reached every branch library in the LFPL system. Hundreds of families found their way back to the libraries for the first time in many months during these presentations during the 2021-22 season.

When awarding the Louisville Orchestra funding support for this program, Mayor Greg Fischer said, “This partnership with the City, the Louisville Orchestra, and Fund for the Arts is a commitment to the health, well-being, and healing of the neighborhoods and people of our community. Working together across agencies ensures a sustainability of impact that none of us are able to accomplish on our own. We look forward to building these and many other collaborations to honor the inherent creativity and artistic power of every person in our community.”

These concerts are free. Reservations in advance are requested for the indoor concerts. Doors open 90 minutes before the performance.  No tickets will be issued.
Additional concerts will be added as scheduling permits.


“Symphonic Sparks”

THU 27 OCT at 7:30PM
     The Jeffersonian
FRI 28 OCT at 7:30PM
Logan Street Market
SAT 29 OCT at 7:30PM
California Community Center
Teddy Abrams, conductor
A program featuring two popular romantic orchestral masterworks and music by a member of the LO Creators Corps: Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, Fictional Migrations by Lisa Bielawa, and Symphony No. 9 by Dmitri Shostakovich. Two selection explores the theme of freedom from different perspectives – as an individual and as a country. The third is a humorous and magical romp through the colors of the orchestra.

“Love at First Listen”

THU 16 FEB at 7:30PM
The Jeffersonian
FRI 17 FEB at 7:30PM
Logan Street Market
SAT 18 FEB at 7:30PM
     California Community Center
Gabriel Lefkowitz, conductor and violin
A program featuring music that laid the foundations of classical music: the Concerto for Violin & Oboe by J. S. Bach and the Symphony No. 5 by Franz Schubert

“An American Flair”

THU 23 MAR at 7:30PM
    The Jeffersonian
FRI 24 MAR at 7:30PM
    Logan Street Market
SAT 25 MAR at 7:30PM
     California Community Center
Kelly Corcoran, conductor
A program featuring music of Americans inspired by the energy and diversity of our country including the Overture to West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, The Tender Land Suite by Aaron Copland, and music by LO Creators Corps member TJ Cole.


Meet the Creators

Teddy Abrams & Louisville Orchestra Announce Inaugural Group of Composers for New “Creators Corps” Residency Program Beginning Sep 1

“If we’re relying on the younger generation to help boost interest in classical music, look no further than Teddy Abrams.” — NPR Music
“A genre-defying orchestra in Louisville? Believe it.” Time magazine

 (July 2022)—Long praised for visionary thinking about the role of an orchestra in its community, galvanizing Music Director Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra (LO) are pleased to announce the inaugural group of creators for their newest initiative, the Louisville Orchestra Creators Corps, which transcends traditional commissioning and composer-in-residence paradigms with a radically new model for collaborating with symphony orchestras in the 21st century. The selected creators are Lisa Bielawa, TJ Cole, and Tyler Taylor. Abrams, who was named Conductor of the Year for 2022 by Musical America and begins his eighth season with the orchestra in September, explains:

“I was overwhelmed by the diverse talent of the 186 applicants for the initial year of the LO’s Creators Corps. I believe this reflects the widespread desire for artists to build deeper and more impactful relationships with civic institutions and the communities they represent. With an extraordinarily dedicated selection committee, we were able to find three exceptional creators to join us in Louisville for the 2022-23 Season. Lisa, TJ, and Tyler are examples of consummate 21st-century artist-leaders; their musical talents match their intellects and they all share a remarkable sensitivity to the needs of the world beyond the boundaries of contemporary musical composition. While each creator has a unique background and aesthetic perspective, their collective accomplishments and capabilities will make them a tremendous part of the LO family and the creative fabric of Louisville (and in Tyler’s case, as a Louisvillian, we are honored to offer him the Orchestra’s broad civic platform). This is an historic and immensely consequential moment for the LO, and I can’t wait to begin collaborating with these three outstanding creators.”

Graham Parker, the Louisville Orchestra’s Interim Executive Director, adds:

“The Creators Corps marks a new chapter for innovation and leadership for the Louisville Orchestra, and I am proud that we are demonstrating the most impactful way composers, community leaders, musicians, and civic partners can come together to fundamentally change the conversation around creativity, the creative process, access to and impact from the arts. The entire LO family is dedicated to delivering on this new model and showcasing it across Metro Louisville, the Commonwealth, and the country.”

The Creators Corps, an innovative first-of-its-kind program that puts artists in the community for deeper integration with the orchestra and the city of Louisville, selects three creators in the spring to move to Louisville for the upcoming season and live in the Shelby neighborhood for at least 30 weeks, serving as LO staff members with an annual salary of $40,000, health insurance, housing, and a custom-built studio workspace. Throughout their residencies, the creators will compose new works to be performed by the orchestra and/or in other settings, participate in educational and community engagement activities, and be active, engaged citizens of their neighborhood. The three selected creators will each have a preexisting work performed on the opening night program on September 17. The world premieres of their new works will be performed in Louisville during the 2022/23 season on Classics programs on January 14, March 4, and March 11 – the latter two dates as part of the Festival of American Music – and will appear as well on Music Without Borders programs.

The Creators Corps program has been funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from The Mellon Foundation and from the generous support of additional individual donors locally and nationally.

About the Creators Corps Composers          

Lisa Bielawa

Composer, producer, and vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a Rome Prize winner in musical composition. She takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. Gramophone reports, “Bielawa is gaining gale force as a composer, churning out impeccably groomed works that at once evoke the layered precision of Vermeer and the conscious recklessness of Jackson Pollock.” Her music has been described as “ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart,” by the New York Times, and “fluid and arresting … at once dramatic and probing,” by the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the recipient of the 2017 Music Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and a 2020 OPERA America Grant for Female Composers. She was named a William Randolph Hearst Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society for 2018 and was Artist-in-Residence at Kaufman Music Center in New York for the 2020-2021 season.

Bielawa has established herself as one of today’s leading composers and performers, one who consistently executes work that incorporates community-making as part of her artistic vision. She has created music for public spaces in Lower Manhattan, the banks of the Tiber River in Rome, on the sites of former airfields in Berlin and in San Francisco, and to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; she composed and produced a twelve-episode, made-for-TV opera that featured over 350 musicians and was filmed in locations across the country; she was a co-founder in 1997 of the MATA Festival, which continues to support young composers; and for five years she was the artistic director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, bringing the chorus to the NY PHIL BIENNIAL and introducing the young performers to the music of today through numerous premieres and commissions from leading composers. From 2019-2022, Bielawa was the founding Composer-in-Residence and Chief Curator of the Philip Glass Institute (PGI) at The New School’s College of the Performing Arts.

In addition to performing as the vocalist in the Philip Glass Ensemble, Bielawa performs in many of her own works as well as in the music of John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Michael Gordon, and others. She will have her third residency as a performer/composer at Zorn’s venue The Stone in November 2022. She recently made her orchestral conducting debut leading the Mannes String Orchestra in a special presentation by the Philip Glass Institute, featuring her music, music by Jon Gibson and David T. Little, and Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 3.

Born in San Francisco into a musical family, Lisa Bielawa played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. She moved to New York two weeks after receiving her B.A. in Literature in 1990 from Yale University and became an active participant in New York musical life.


TJ Cole

TJ Cole (they/she) is an American composer, originally from the suburbs of Atlanta. They have been commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Nashville in Harmony, Intersection, Time For Three, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Play On Philly, the Music in May Festival, Music in the Vineyards, the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, One Book One Philadelphia, and the Bakken Trio, among others.

​Their music has been performed by various ensembles, including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, Ensemble Connect, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, the Dover Quartet, the Bakken Trio, and the Nebula Ensemble, among others. They have also worked on numerous projects with Time for Three as an orchestrator and arranger, and served as a composer-in-residence at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in 2014.

TJ has also been a singer-songwriter, producer, and engineer in the fully electronic synth-pop band Twin Pixie, which focuses on making music at the intersection of queerness, pop culture, and the supernatural.

TJ has participated in composition programs including the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, and the Next Festival of Emerging Artists, and studied with Samuel Adler for a summer at the Freie Universität Berlin. They have won two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer awards (2014 and 2020), including the Leo Kaplan Award in 2020 for their string sextet ‘Playtime’.

​TJ has also been involved with music-related community outreach projects. They collaborated with bassist Ranaan Meyer as an orchestrator on his project The World We All Deserve Through Music, and with First Person Arts by co-curating and performing in a musical story slam. During a yearlong ArtistYear Fellowship (2016-17), TJ was able to co-run and collaborate in musical performances and songwriting workshops with residents of Project HOME, a Philadelphia-based organization fighting to end chronic homelessness.

​TJ received their Bachelor’s degree in composition from the Curtis Institute of Music, and studied at Interlochen Arts Academy. Their mentors include John Boyle Jr., Jennifer Higdon, David Ludwig, and Richard Danielpour.

Tyler Taylor

Tyler Taylor, a Louisville native, is a composer-performer whose work explores the different ways identity can be expressed in musical scenarios. Common among these pieces is a sense of contradiction – sometimes whimsical, sometimes alarming – that comes from the interaction of diverse musical layers. This expression of contradiction likely comes from his being a person of mixed race; being raised on hip hop and R&B while inheriting a European tradition of Western art music as his primary form of musical expression in spite of having little or no other cultural ties to Europe; and pursuing a career in a field that generally lacks representation of his demographic.

Tyler has recently held fellowships at the National Orchestra Institute and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. During these residencies, he had several works performed, including two premieres, and worked alongside Marin Alsop, Derek Bermel, Andreia Pinto Correia, and many other distinguished artists. His work has been recognized by awards including the BMI Student Composition Award (2019) and the Howard Hanson Ensemble Prize (2017, 2016), and has been featured during the College Orchestra Directors Association Convention (2022), the University of Louisville Annual New Music Festival (2018, 2017, 2016) and the Midwest Composers Symposium (2019). He has recently been commissioned by the Washington and Lee University Orchestra, the Chicago Composers Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Contemporary Ensemble, the Youth Performing Arts School, the Louisville Orchestra, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, and the Indiana Bandmasters Association.

In addition to his composition, Tyler is an avid performer of contemporary music, playing horn in many of his own works and those by his colleagues. He has honed his skill as a contemporary performer in groups such as the IU New Music Ensemble, Eastman’s Musica Nova, Ossia New Music, the University of Louisville New Music Ensemble, and more.

Tyler holds degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Doctor of Music in Composition, with minors in music theory and horn performance), the Eastman School of Music (Master of Music in Composition and Horn), and the University of Louisville (Bachelor of Music in Composition). His principal composition teachers include Tansy Davies, Aaron Travers, Don Freund, David Liptak, Robert Morris, Krzysztof Wołek, and Steve Rouse. His principal horn teachers include  Emily Britton, Dale Clevenger, Jeff Nelsen, W. Peter Kurau, Bruce Heim, Steve Causey, and Diana Morgen.


Creators Corps Works in 2022-23 Classics Season

Sep 17
“Swing, Swagger and Sway”
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Tessa Lark, violin
Wynton MARSALIS: Violin Concerto in D
Tyler TAYLOR: Facades
Lisa BIELAWA: Drama/Self-Pity
TJ COLE: Megalopolis
STRAVINSKY: Symphony in Three Movements

Jan 14
Fifths Of Beethoven
Teddy Abrams, conductor & piano
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”
World premiere commissioned from the Louisville Orchestra Creators Corps
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5

March 4
Festival Of American Music: Journeys of Faith
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Louisville Chamber Choir
World premiere commissioned from the Louisville Orchestra Creators Corps
Olga NEUWIRTH: Masaot/Clocks Without Hands
BERNSTEIN: Symphony No. 3, “Kaddish”

March 11
Festival Of American Music: The Literary Influence
Teddy Abrams, conductor
Sebastian Chang, piano
Joel THOMPSON: To Awaken the Sleeper
World premiere commissioned from the Louisville Orchestra Creators Corps
BERNSTEIN: Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety”

LO is on the move… literally!


 A Temporary Ticket Office Will Be Set Up at The Glassworks Building to Service Patrons and Subscribers while Orchestra Staff Works Remotely During the Renovation  

Graham Parker, Interim Executive Director, announced today the relocation of The Louisville Orchestra’s administrative offices from 620 West Main Street to 624 West Main Street. In partnership with orchestra supporter and local real estate developer Mo Deljoo (NULU Marketplace), the company will occupy three floors of the historic building. Tyler Smith of CORE Real Estate represented the Landlord, Mr. Deljoo and made the LO aware of this wonderful opportunity. Known as “The Meyer Building,” the structure was designed and built by the famed Louisville architect Charles D. Meyer and is part of the corridor of buildings from 6th to 9th Street that are on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Currently under renovation, the custom-built space will include 9000 square feet of office and meeting space that includes a state-of-the-art music library. The Orchestra plans to open the new office in October 2022. 

Parker explains, “We are thrilled for this opportunity to create a new home for our extraordinary staff, and an environment welcoming to our community partners and supporters. This amazing new administrative home allows us to remain visible on Main Street in Downtown Louisville as well as close to our main performance venue at the Kentucky Center.”  

The orchestra is leaving its current office space at 620 West Main Street on June 14th. “We will be a bit nomadic for the summer,” continues Parker. “But rest assured, the orchestra staff will continue to work remotely to bring you the excellent concerts and community experiences the Louisville community has come to expect. We look forward to an incredible 2022/23 season and we appreciate the public’s patience during this transition.” 

 A temporary ticket office opens on Wednesday, June 15 at The Glassworks Building, located at 815 West Market Street. Office hours are Monday through Friday; 9am to 5pm. Subscription tickets are on sale for the 2022-23 Season and the July 2 performance of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The LO ticket office can be reached at 502-587-8681. The LO thanks Board member Mariah Gratz for the generous donation of this space. 

The Orchestra staff phone numbers will be automatically routed to appropriate personnel working remotely. USPS mail will be forwarded, of course. Additionally, the Louisville Orchestra has set up a temporary USPS mailing address for all correspondence beginning June 14: 

The Louisville Orchestra
9462 Brownsboro Rd, PMB #343
Louisville, KY 40241  

“We look forward to welcoming the public into our new home this Fall,” says Parker. “It’s such an extraordinary time for our organization as we begin work on exciting new initiatives including the inaugural Creators Corps residency and our two-year statewide tour.” 



Highlights include world premiere works by the new Creators Corps, Beethoven’s Fifth, and a performance by Broadway star KELLI O’HARA

(Louisville KY… Apr 19, 2022)  Now in its ninth season under the dynamic and inspiring leadership of Music Director Teddy Abrams, the Louisville Orchestra is proud to announce a season of creativity in 2022-23.  Highlights of the season include new works by composers from the newly launched Creators Corps, the eighth annual Festival of American Music featuring works by the American cultural hero Leonard Bernstein, premieres and commissioned works by important voices of today’s composers including the 2021 Grawemeyer Award-winning composer Olga Neuwirth, acclaimed composers Joel Thompson, Thomas Adés, Mason Bates and Christopher Cerrone. Teddy Abrams performs as pianist and conductor for Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto in a program where he also conducts Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, plus performances by Avery Fisher Career Grant winner TESSA LARK and a long-awaited return to the stage of the momentous Symphony No. 7 by Anton Bruckner will engage the classical music lovers of Louisville. Headlining the Pops Series is Grammy Award-winning Broadway and Hollywood star KELLI O’HARA. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt has lined up a season packed with entertainment including vintage films with some of the finest music scores are on display; the exceptional voice of CAPATHIA JENKINS in “Aretha: A Tribute,” and the Emmy-Award winning vocal group THE TEXAS TENORS who have amassed a huge fan base worldwide.

5 Different Concert Series

Each year the Louisville Orchestra plays a wide array of public, education, and outreach performances. With more than 100 performances annually by the orchestra or its ensembles, the LO is central to life in Louisville. We announce programs and dates for five different concert series for the 2022-23 Season that are currently available for sale with discounted multi-concert subscription packages available to the public. Complete programming and descriptions of individual concerts are available at

CLASSICS SERIESA 9-concert series created by Music Director Teddy Abrams, the Classics Series presents an inspiring slate of exceptional music featuring the annual FESTIVAL OF AMERICAN MUSIC, a concert with Teddy at the piano performing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto plus conducting Beethoven’s Fifth, and the massive grand finale of the Symphony No. 7 by Anton Bruckner – a piece that’s been missing from our programs for over 20 years. The newly launched Creators Corps will have new works premiered at concerts starting in January 2023. The Creators Corps is a unique residency program that brings three composers to live and work in Louisville as a way to enhance our thriving creative community with music that is made in our city for our citizens. Acclaimed guest performers on the Classics Series include violinist TESSA LARK, LO’s own principal horn JON GUSTELY, piano virtuosos TIMO ANDRES and SEBASTIAN CHANG, rising star violinist ALEXI KENNEY, and baritone DASHON BURTON. 9-concert packages from $207. 5-concert packages from $130. That’s $26 per concert!

POPS SERIES – Six concert series under the direction of Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt. Opening with a performance by KELLI O’HARA, and featuring a tribute concert to Aretha Franklin, our traditional Holiday Pops, a look back at the music of the 80s, and closing with the massively entertaining TEXAS TENORS. 6-concert packages from $156.

COFFEE SERIES – Six-concert matinee series offering a sampling of the music from the Classics Series. Concerts are presented on Fridays at 11AM at the Kentucky Center. 6-concert packages from $108.

FAMILY SERIES — Three-concert series presented at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall (NEW location). Programs are centered on storytelling and music to entertain and educate children ages 4 to 12 years. Affordable and fun! 3-concerts for $42 (adult) and $27 (child)

NIGHTLITES at the Ogle – Four-concert series presented at the Ogle Center at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany. Popular classical music prices at $90 for all 4 events.



Statewide Touring Funded by $4.3M Appropriation

Louisville Orchestra Announces Annual Statewide Touring Program Funded by $4.3M Appropriation from KY General Assembly

(Louisville, KY…March 31, 2022) The Louisville Orchestra (LO) is pleased to announce that it will receive a $4.3M appropriation from the Kentucky General Assembly to resume an annual statewide touring program. This appropriation is an unprecedented commitment from the state, allowing the orchestra to visit every region of the Commonwealth of Kentucky over two years, beginning in 2023.

Including multiple tours by the full Louisville Orchestra, as well as strategic engagement of local ensembles and artists across the next two concert seasons, the statewide project will launch a new era of deep community partnerships reflecting the character and interests of each town on the tour. The engagements, unlike anything conceived of previously, will carry the LO’s dedication to building creative communities beyond its hometown by presenting performances, sharing music-making, and celebrating artistic partnerships in cities and towns across Kentucky. Participation in all touring activities, including tickets to all performances, will be free.

By working with arts and civic leaders to develop multiple community-based activities, partnering with local musicians and creators, and bringing entire communities together with full orchestra concerts, the LO hopes to soften the rigid lines of urban-rural division that have hindered mutual support and understanding between citizens of Kentucky.

The budget passed with bipartisan support through both the House and the Senate on Wednesday, March 30, and the LO will begin the planning phase of the touring program immediately. Single performances in nearby towns will launch the initiative beginning in fall 2022, while full touring activities will begin in 2023. The LO’s tour management team will use the next 12 months to deepen relationships across the state to understand where LO partnerships can have the most impact.

Working with State Legislative Leadership

The Louisville Orchestra Commonwealth tour would not have been possible without the support given by House and Senate Leadership in Frankfort, Kentucky. House Speaker David Osborne (R-District 59), Senate President Robert Stivers (R-District 25), Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer (R-District 17) and Budget Conference Chair Senator Julie Raque Adams (R-District 36) were all immediate and passionate champions of the initiative, seeing it as essential to a vibrant and thriving community and to continuing the task of bridging the urban-rural divide in Kentucky.

House Speaker David Osborne stated: “Our investment provides a unique opportunity to bring the incredible music of the Louisville Orchestra to communities throughout the state while honoring the talent in each region. I look forward to seeing this series become reality.”

Senator Julie Raque Adams says: “Music has always been an integral piece of Kentucky’s cultural heritage. Teddy’s vision to engage students through collaboration and performances in unique venues across our Commonwealth provides a well-timed opportunity to celebrate what unites us—our love and appreciation for great Kentucky music!”

Teddy Abrams, Music Director, named Musical America’s “Conductor of the Year” for 2022, is the visionary behind the touring initiative, which he hopes will bring inspiration to and foster connection between the people of Kentucky. He explains:

“This is a moment to reforge the human relationships that unite our communities and to celebrate our commonalities; music is perhaps the greatest tool for overcoming differences in backgrounds and demographics. Kentucky is famous around the world for its outsize contributions to music in so many genres—from bluegrass to rock, rap, and (of course) orchestral music—and so we developed the idea of taking the Louisville Orchestra throughout the Commonwealth, from the smallest communities to larger cities, to collaborate and share music-making with our fellow Kentuckians living in every part of the state.

“I’ve grown to deeply love both my adopted hometown of Louisville and the beautiful Commonwealth beyond; I am proud to call myself a Kentuckian, and at the Orchestra we’ve made it our mission to do right by this beautiful state and its exceptional people. We can’t wait to get on the road and make music across the state! The Orchestra and I are incredibly grateful to the Kentucky General Assembly and our legislative leaders for believing in this vision and making this project possible. This is indeed a historic day for music in the Commonwealth and for your Louisville Orchestra.”

Graham Parker, Interim Executive Director has made the LO Commonwealth tour a top priority since assuming his post a few short months ago. Parker says: “The Louisville Orchestra demonstrates meaningful artistic and community leadership by making a commitment to the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky to bring people together through music. Our vision has been to create bridges across an urban-rural divide and to serve audiences who are often overlooked, bringing them the distinctive and celebrated artistry of Teddy Abrams and the LO. This is the right way for a modern American orchestra to engage with communities locally and regionally.”

Lee Kirkwood, Chairman of the Louisville Orchestra Board of Directors sees strong potential in the business and community relationships that will develop as the LO’s impact extends past Louisville. Kirkwood says: “The board of directors, staff, and musicians of the Louisville Orchestra extend sincere appreciation to the leaders in the Kentucky House and Senate for the confidence this appropriation shows in our ability to bring people together through music. Forging connections that unify and creating relationships across boundaries will improve the lives of everyone from business leaders to schoolchildren.”

About the Louisville Orchestra Touring Initiative

Louisville Orchestra as a Resource for the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Kentucky presents a rich landscape of history, community, industry, and ecology, with extraordinary depth of both innovation and tradition. Despite numerous successes across the state, there is little doubt that many regions feel left out or underserved in receiving access to arts and culture programming. Additionally, the reality of rural areas being left behind by investment focused on urban areas has created an urban-rural divide, with those living outside the Louisville Metro looking toward the city with frustration.

The Louisville Orchestra firmly believes that beyond the primary human essentials like employment, housing, and healthcare, a truly healthy and unified community needs the arts to provide it with cohesion and purpose. Music, as a universal language requiring no intermediary or translation, has an especially great power to create community.

The LO is a proactive community partner and pioneer of artist-driven civic leadership, actively working to provide access to its performances, free family engagement activities, and free community parks concerts that ensure the removal of economic or social barriers. Until now, this increased access has been restricted to the Louisville Metro; the next step is to provide access across the state.

Through the vehicle of an annual Kentucky tour beginning in 2023, the LO will return to a moment in its own history when it was a resource for the entire Commonwealth. Bridging communities from all corners of the state, the orchestra will provide access to mainstage concerts and act as a cultural resource, building community partnerships, bringing enrichment activities designed for youth and families, and incorporating local musicians and musical traditions into LO programming and performances. The opportunity for Abrams and the orchestra to spread their message of community-building and musical collaboration outside of Louisville and across the state of Kentucky only reaffirms what Arts-Louisville concluded long ago: “The orchestra, specifically this orchestra, is a living, breathing, evolving, and relevant art form.”

Launch of Creators Corps

Teddy Abrams & Louisville Orchestra Establish New “Creators Corps” Residency Program for Composers

Long praised for visionary thinking about the role of an orchestra in its community, galvanizing Music Director Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra embark in the 2022-23 season on their newest initiative, the Louisville Orchestra Creators Corps, completely transcending traditional commissioning and composer-in-residence paradigms with a radically new model for collaborating with symphony orchestras in the 21st century. Each year, the orchestra will select three creators to move to Louisville and live in the Shelby Park neighborhood for at least 30 weeks, serving as staff members with an annual salary of $40,000, health insurance, provided housing, and a custom-built studio workspace. Creators with experience beyond the Western classical tradition are encouraged to apply, and those participating in the program will have the option of re-applying/renewing for one or two additional years. Throughout their residencies, they will compose new works to be performed by the orchestra, participate in educational and community engagement activities, and be active, engaged citizens of their neighborhood. The program has been funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and individual donors. Applications are due by May 2, and the three finalists will be publicly announced in mid-June. The residency begins on September 1.

Abrams, who was named Conductor of the Year for 2022 by Musical America and is now in his eighth season with the orchestra, explains:

“The LO Creators Corps is the most ambitious large-scale project the Orchestra has undertaken since I arrived in Louisville. The concept developed from four critical lines of inquiry: how can we establish Louisville as a global center of creative music-making, how can we reposition composers as visible leaders with public service responsibilities, how can we provide our city with a direct and deep connection to the art-making process, and how can we offer a 21st-century response to the LO’s historic First Edition commissioning and recording project? The resulting concept will be a grand experiment – a first amongst American orchestras – to employ (and house!) multiple, full-time composers (called creators to represent all musical genres) who will regularly present new music for both the Orchestra and the community beyond, serving as creative artists committed to helping our city grow and flourish. I like the idea of deploying artists for a real purpose, getting them involved in a way that involves a deeper collective vision, like the Peace Corps.”

Composer Angélica Negrón, a member of the Creators Corps Advisory Panel which will review all the applications, adds:

“The LO Creators Corps is a uniquely special opportunity for composers to have a meaningful and sustainable relationship with a wonderful orchestra that’s deeply committed to not only supporting new music but also to making this new music a vital part of their community. To have the chance to imagine, create and develop with such a substantial and strong support system is a rare gift for music makers – particularly in the context of orchestras – that could have a huge impact on a composer’s career, and I’m excited to hear the music and conversations that this new initiative sparks.”

The Creators Corps initiative builds on the Louisville Orchestra’s earliest history and personality as an institution. Starting in 1947, the orchestra began an ambitious and unprecedented project of commissioning new orchestral works from composers around the world. At a time when even the most prestigious orchestras were offering few works by living composers, the Louisville Orchestra commissioned and premiered 21 works in just three seasons. With the launch of First Edition Recordings in 1955, the LO became the first American orchestra to own a recording label when it received a Rockefeller grant of $500,000 to commission, record, and premiere music by living composers. Known as a pioneer in new music ever since, the orchestra has commissioned more than 150 works from luminary composers including Aaron Copland, William Schuman, Paul Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, Jacques Ibert, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and a host of others. From 1947 to the 1977-78 season, no other orchestra equaled the impact of the Louisville Orchestra in bringing to life the works of contemporary composers. The New York Philharmonic came closest with a total of 110 works created compared to the Louisville Orchestra’s 136 commissions. During the same period, the Boston Symphony Orchestra premiered 87 commissions, the Houston Symphony 81, the American Composer’s Orchestra 76, and the Chicago Symphony 75. A survey of premieres starting in 1958 shows that the Louisville Orchestra’s active advocacy of the works of living composers stimulated a dramatic worldwide increase in support that continues to this day.

Though conceived as a successor project to First Edition Records, the Creators Corps also represents a giant leap forward. The initiative asks the three invited creators to act as artist-leaders, developing meaningful relationships with neighborhood residents and embodying the orchestra’s conviction that music is a fundamental part of civic life. Responsibilities will include creating orchestral works to be featured in the LO’s annual Festival of American Music; community-based projects; education initiatives; collaboration with performers of diverse genres and backgrounds; curating portions of orchestral programs at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall; and participating in public activities in the Shelby Park neighborhood and throughout Louisville.

The Louisville Orchestra has assembled an Advisory and Selection Committee to determine each year’s three finalists from an open application process. The committee will search for creators from a variety of backgrounds who have distinctive artistic voices, are dedicated to community and educational outreach, and care deeply about grounding their musical practice in social engagement. The ideal applicants will be early or mid-career creators with bold ideas about writing for and interacting with an orchestra. They must be civic-minded and interested in utilizing music as a vehicle for community change. Finally, the creators must be outgoing, social, and self-directed, with the desire to initiate projects and be active in neighborhood life. Creators with wide-ranging experiences and training are encouraged, but applicants must have the ability to compose for a symphony orchestra or be willing to partner with other creators with those skills.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says:

“Our Louisville Orchestra’s tradition as an innovator and an international center for new works takes another leap forward with the launch of the Creators Corps. Our Orchestra benefits from exciting new music, and Shelby Park and our entire community benefit from the educational and community events. Hats off to Teddy Abrams and the entire Louisville Orchestra team for their efforts to show how a community can shape the arts, and how the arts can shape a community.”

Graham Parker, interim Executive Director of the Louisville Orchestra, concludes:

“The Louisville Orchestra has always led the national conversation about the role of composers in the shaping of artistic and civic impact. The new Creators Corps program is the next bold chapter of that story, providing our community and audiences with consistent relationships with leading creative voices of the day, as well as providing a stable and deep opportunity for a composer to hone their voice and understand how their music can bring the community together. This is the only way forward.”

Application Process

Artists can apply and view details at

Important Dates & Deadlines

  • March 23, 2022: Applications open
  • May 2, 2022: Application deadline
  • End of May 2022: Notification
  • August 2022: Selected residents begin relocating to Louisville
  • September 1, 2022: Residency period begins

For questions, please contact Jacob Gotlib, Creative Neighborhood Residency Program Manager, at or call 502.587.8681.


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


People of Earth, a dynamic Latin timba ensemble based in New York City, appears with Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra in Whitney Hall on March 4 and 5, in a highlight of Part I of the orchestra’s two-concert Festival of Latin American Music. Part II continues March 11-12, in a festival that sweeps across the Caribbean and through the hemisphere on a tour of the music of the Americas.

Together, the two concerts premiere three new compositions commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra, and two commissioned and premiered by the Louisville Orchestra more than 50 years ago under the baton of symphony founder Robert Whitney.

Besides the new, there’s also the familiar, with the March 4-5 concerts featuring Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances,” from “West Side Story,” and the March 11-12 concerts capped with the “Cuban Overture,” by George Gershwin.

A lot of sounds, and it’s all got rhythm.

“We’re bringing together all kinds of perspectives on Latin Music, from traditional to jazz, fusion and concert music as we celebrate this culture,” says Abrams. “The rhythms and textures that bring energy and light to Latin Music will be on display at these shows — and I’m so excited to bring these performers and this music to Louisville audiences.”

The People of Earth is a band of singers, dancers, horns, and percussion infusing the many beats and dance rhythms of Cuba and the Caribbean — all perking with the symphony’s strings. Abrams says the blend, “blurs the lines of salsa club and concert hall.

“We had the extraordinary opportunity to commission a new work from Dafnis Prieto, a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” fellow, and multi-Grammy-winning Cuban composer and performer,” says Abrams. “He agreed to write a piece that redefines the concept of soloist,” with the People of Earth timba band taking center stage.

Prieto says his “Tentacion” (Temptation) explores the many sides of a relationship in “an imaginary love story driven by the powerful law of attraction.”

Abrams notes that the Festival’s new commissions re-affirm the Louisville Orchestra’s association with Latin Music. Many of the hundreds of works premiered and recorded by the symphony on its First Edition label a half-century ago were created by musicians of international fame, including Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazil’s most famous composer. His “Alvorada na Floresta Tropical” (Dawn in a Tropical Rainforest) premiered in Louisville in1953.

Though classically trained in Paris, Villa-Lobos always asserted he learned his music “from a bird in the jungles of Brazil, not from academics.” For the premiere, Villa-Lobos explained, “A dawn, in any tropical forest of Brazil, is for me an overture of colors accompanied by the magic singing and chirping of tropical birds — and also by the howls, squeals, evocations and the exotic barbaric dances of the native Indians.” Villa Lobos adapted the tonal scales of indigenous Brazilians into his composition. The piece is programmed for Saturday, Mar. 5 only.

Later in March, Abrams has programmed Joaquin Rodrigo’s guitar “Concierto de Aranjuez” into the Louisville Orchestra’s “Music Without Borders” series, Mar. 24, 25 and 26, at The Temple, The Jeffersonian, and the Ogle Center, respectively. Stephen Mattingly is the featured guitarist.


Festival of Latin American Music #1
Friday, March 4 at 11AM at Kentucky Center
Saturday, March 5 at 8PM at Kentucky Center

Festival of Latin American Music #2
Friday, March 11 at 11AM at Kentucky Center
Saturday, March 12 at 8PM at Kentucky Center

Concierto de Aranjuez
Thursday, March 24 at 7:30PM at The Temple
Friday, March 25 at 7:30PM at The Jeffersonian
Saturday, March 26 at 7:30PM at The Ogle Center at IUS