Donna Parkes wins Ford Musician Award

We are so proud of Donna Parkes who won one of 5 Ford Musician Awards from the League of American Orchestras.


The Louisville Orchestra’s principal trombonist Donna Parkes is one of just five orchestra musicians from across the U.S. who received Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service from the League of American Orchestras at the League’s 74th National Conference in Nashville, June 3-5, 2019. The awards celebrate professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement.

This year’s awardees work with children of all ages in a variety of initiatives, introducing young children to orchestral instruments through story, live music, and movement; teaching hearing and speech-impaired children new skills; providing music education and engagement to students from underserved communities; connecting with children and families in outlying communities through creative programming; and facilitating the creation of new compositions by high school students.

Donna Parkes at the Heuser Hearing Institute

“Donna is an amazing musician and leader,” states Louisville Orchestra CEO Robert Massey. “In addition to serving as Principal Trombone, she is a member of the Louisville Orchestra Musicians Committee, holds a seat on the Board of Directors, and has extensively been at the forefront of the Orchestra’s community programs. She has been instrumental in the Louisville Orchestra’s Heuser Hearing and Learning Academy Residency program for more than a decade. Introducing the wonder of sound and music to deaf and hearing-impaired children, Donna collaborates with the teachers and therapists at Heuser and coordinates the participation of her fellow LO musicians to bring this program to the Academy classrooms every month. We are pleased that Donna is being recognized by the League for her work in this program.”

“These musicians’ artistry and commitment drives compelling work that touches the lives of so many in their communities,” said Jesse Rosen, the League’s President and CEO. “Ford Motor Company Fund’s ongoing support has helped us share the inspiring stories of these trailblazing mentors and leaders with the entire orchestra field and beyond.”

“We’re proud to recognize these five musicians, whose contributions to their communities will create a lasting positive impact,” said Yisel Cabrera, Manager, Government and Community Relations, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Music and the arts have the ability to transcend boundaries and bring people together, which is why the generous service these musicians are providing is so important.”

The musicians received their awards at the League of American Orchestras’ Conference Luncheon, June 4, and discussed their work at Musicians Transforming Communities, a session for Conference delegates on June 4.

About Donna Parkes

Australian trombonist Donna Parkes has been Principal Trombone of the Louisville Orchestra since 2008 and has been Principal Trombone of the Colorado Music Festival since 2009. She has played with the Utah Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, and the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. She has performed with many orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Oregon Symphony, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Sydney Symphony, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Parkes has performed at the Arizona Musicfest, the Marlboro Festival, and the Grand Tetons Festival and in 2016 toured with the Australian World Orchestra. Solo competition successes include winning the Australian National Trombone Competition, the Brisbane International Brass Competition, and finalist in the Jeju Brass Competition in Korea. She has appeared as a soloist or clinician at the International Women’s Brass Conference, International Trombone Festival and the Melbourne International Festival of Brass. Parkes received her Masters Degree studying under Charles Vernon at DePaul University and other primary teachers include Michael Mulcahy and Ron Prussing.

The five award recipients and their orchestras are:

Victoria Griswold, Violin
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Teddy Bear Series, introducing young children to orchestral instruments through story, live music, and movement

Jeff Handley, Principal Percussion
Chicago Sinfonietta
Audience Matters and SEED, in-school residency programs for students from underserved communities

Rebecca Patterson, Principal Cello
New Haven Symphony Orchestra
NHSO Harmony Fellowship Quartet / Recording Composition Class, for students from underrepresented communities

Donna Parkes, Principal Trombone
Louisville Orchestra
Teaching communication skills through music to children with hearing and speech impairments in a partnership with the Heuser Hearing Institute.

Rebecca Young, Associate Principal Viola
New York Philharmonic
Very Young People’s Concerts

About the Ford Musician Awards for Excellence in Community Service:

Now in its fourth year, the League’s Ford Musician Awards program, made possible by the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund, honors and celebrates professional orchestra musicians who provide exemplary and meaningful service in their communities and make a significant impact through education and community engagement.

The musicians were selected by a panel of peer professionals through a competitive nomination process to receive the awards, which include a $2,500 grant to each musician, as well as an additional $2,500 grant to the musician’s home orchestra to support professional development focused on community service and engagement for musicians.

Previous Award Recipients:

2018 award recipients included Jeffrey Barker, associate principal flute, Seattle Symphony; John R. Beck, principal percussionist, Winston Salem Symphony; Jody Chaffee, Community Engagement Director, Flute, Firelands Symphony Orchestra; Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboe, Dallas Symphony Orchestra; and Juan R. Ramírez Hernández, Violin, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Videos of the 2018 awardees can be found here.

2017 award recipients included Mark Dix, viola, Phoenix Symphony; Michael Gordon, principal flute, Kansas City Symphony; Diane McElfish Helle, violin, Grand Rapids Symphony; Eunsoon Lee-Coroliss, assistant principal violist, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra; and Peter Zlotnick, education manager/principal timpani, Greensboro Symphony.
Videos of the 2017 awardees can be found here.

2016 award recipients included Penny Anderson Brill, viola, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Shannon Orme, bass clarinet, Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Jeffrey Paul, Principal Oboe, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra; Brian Prechtl, percussion, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; and Beth Vandervennet, cello, Oakland Symphony.

This is the League’s second partnership project with Ford Motor Company Fund, which was the title sponsor of Ford Made in America, the largest commissioning consortium in the country’s history.

Classics Series ALL 9

Classics Series at the Louisville Orchestra



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.



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.

LO Creators Corps


The Louisville Orchestra (LO) Creators Corps offers fully-funded 1- to 3-year residencies in Louisville, KY, to three selected composers/creators. The selected creators will collaborate with the orchestra to write new works, participate in community engagement programming, and maintain vibrant and active presences in the local community. The orchestra will provide each creator with a $40,000 salary, health benefits, free housing, and free studio workspaces.  





The Louisville Orchestra’s (LO) newest initiative, the Louisville Orchestra Creators Corps, launches a new model for how artists/composers/creators can collaborate with a symphony orchestra in the 21st century. Each year, the LO will invite three individual creators to move to Louisville for at least 30 weeks. Throughout their residencies, they will compose new works to be performed by the LO, participate in educational and community engagement activities, and be active, engaged citizens of Shelby Park, the neighborhood where they’ll reside. 

This program has been funded by a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and individual donors to the LO. 


Since its founding in 1937, the Louisville Orchestra has had a historic and unrivaled commitment to sustaining living composers and contemporary music. Charles Farnsley, LO’s board chairman and later Louisville’s mayor, together with Robert Whitney, the LO’s founding music director and conductor, conceived an adventurous plan to make the commissioning, performance, and recording of new works a centerpiece of the LO’s global mission. Between 1950 and 1992, the orchestra annually commissioned and recorded more than 150 new compositions from composers worldwide, releasing nearly 150 LPs of more than 450 works by living composers.

Since Teddy Abrams arrived as music director in 2014, the LO has renewed its dedication to new music with a variety of innovative programming. The LO Creators Corps is the boldest embodiment of this mission to date, connecting the LO’s foundational ethos with a new vision for how creators can sustain and be sustained by the cultural life of a city, a neighborhood, and a community.

Applicant Profile

We are searching for three creators with bold ideas about collaborating with an orchestra in the 21st century. Our ideal candidates: 

  • Have a distinctive, fully-realized creative voice with the technical capacity to achieve their vision. 
  • Are fluent in composing for orchestral forces (or be willing to collaborate with someone who is), though they need not necessarily come from a traditional Western Classical background
  • Are passionate about forging relationships with community organizations to advance music’s role in civic life. 
  • Care deeply about education, having experience in or being excited to work with local students and teachers on creative music-making programs. 
  • Be willing to engage with and be accessible to residents of the neighborhood where they will live, participate in public events, and share their work. 

The Louisville Orchestra aims to assemble a cohort of “artist-leaders” who represent a diverse range of backgrounds and practices yet share the LO’s conviction that music is a fundamental part of civic life.

Resident Responsibilities

Throughout their residency, each creator must:

  • Make Louisville, KY their primary residence for 30 to 48 weeks of the year. The LO will give each creator the option to reapply/renew annually for up to 3 years.
  • Create at least one large-scale orchestral work per year to form the basis of the LO’s annual Festival of American Music and other programs throughout the season.
  • Create or direct at least one community-based project per year within one of the following categories:
    • A large-scale outdoor public musical installation
    • An education-based work for families and/or youth
    • An orchestral work involving partnerships between the LO’s musicians and other performers of diverse genres/backgrounds
    • Other projects, as proposed and agreed upon between the creator and the LO
  • Curate a portion of one program per year for the LO at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall.
  • Participate in educational and outreach activities as part of the LO’s community engagement programming for audience members ranging from 5 to 75 years of age.
  • Participate in public activities in the Shelby Park neighborhood and throughout Louisville, including presentations of their work, studio visits, open workshops with the LO, concerts, and other social events. 

Residency Benefits

Each of the three selected creators will receive:

  • Free housing for themselves and their families
  • Free access to custom-built studio workspaces
  • $40,000 per year salary
  • $1,000 relocation assistance
  • Health insurance coverage from the LO
  • Access to LO musicians, staff, and Teddy Abrams as “sounding boards” and regular collaborators
  • Should they wish, each creator can receive private conducting training from Teddy Abrams

Important Dates & Deadlines

  • March 11, 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


Applicant Eligibility

Only individual creators (as an individual, an artist-led nonprofit organization, or an artist-led corporation) may apply to this program. An eligible creator is:

  • An early or mid-career composer, songwriter, producer, sound artist, or intermedia artist
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is based in the U.S. or its territories. (the LO is unable to provide visas at this time)

While the Louisville Orchestra is an institution rooted in the Western Art Music tradition, we do not attempt to limit or define the history or aesthetic range of that tradition. We encourage applications from creators whose background and experience lie outside of this tradition.

Application Materials

In the application portal, we ask all applicants to submit the following materials:

  • Resume or CV
  • Three (3) works that you feel most strongly demonstrate your voice and technical capacity as a creator. If you have composed works for orchestra or large ensemble, please include one of them. Submit links to scores, recordings, videos, text, or any other kind of documentation appropriate to your work.
  • Rank your interest in developing projects for the following community engagement programs:
    1. Family Programming: Create new and entertaining ways for audiences of all ages to engage with the orchestra and its musicians. E.g., a narrative work based upon a piece of literature, a project involving creative participation from audience members, working with small ensembles to create new family programs.

    2. Community Engagement: Create collaborative works in partnership with another Louisville-based organization that explores social/cultural themes, engages with the mission/audience of the partnering organization, or connects with listeners beyond the concert hall. E.g., a site-specific installation involving LO musicians, a collaborative intermedia project, composing/orchestrating accompaniments, and leading workshops for Louisville Orchestra Rap School.

    3. School Project: Create works that feature or are performed by/for Louisville-area K-12 students, helping them connect with their instruments, the orchestra, and music generally in new ways. E.g., a work designed for young audiences, a work written to be played by students as part of the MakingMUSIC program, co-creating educational workshops or residencies with Louisville-area schools.

    4. Other: Propose your own community-based project that you’d like to develop with the LO and at least one other partnering organization.

  • A proposal for an example project you would undertake in one of the above categories (500 words or fewer)
  • Responses to each of the following questions (500 words or fewer per question):
    1. Describe your artistic goals, methods, and/or process. What is most important to you in your creative practice?

    2. Describe why this opportunity interests you, and how you envision it will help you to advance your creative goals or career as an artist

    3. We invite you to share information about your community (shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage) by describing your community, your relationship to it, and the role your work serves in your community’s social, cultural, or civic ecosystem.

    4. Discuss what methods of public discourse (e.g. presentations, social activities, etc.) you consider useful in sharing and creating conversations about your work

    5. Describe your ideal (most productive, creative, relaxing) day in as much detail as possible. What would you do? Where would you go? What would your schedule be like?

Judging Procedures

The LO has assembled a Selection Committee to determine each year’s three finalists. 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 committee will evaluate the applications according to the following criteria:

  • Artistic Craft (45%):

    • Strong sense of the creator’s voice

    • Technical proficiency necessary to achieve the desired results

    • Quality of work samples (“quality” always being defined by a cultural context)

  • Community Orientation (20%):

    • Capacity to develop and execute community engagement projects, both self-directed and in partnership with the LO

    • Willingness and ability to cultivate relationships with local cultural and educational organizations

    • Willingness and ability to live and work collaboratively, both with the other creators in the cohort and with Louisville-based institutions

  • Neighborhood Engagement (20%):

    • Willingness to be an active and visible presence in the Shelby Park neighborhood

    • Interest in participating in neighborhood social and cultural activities

    • Willingness to give public presentations to neighborhood residents, discuss creative processes, demonstrate works-in-progress, etc.

  • Professional/Creative Advancement (15%):

    • Participating in this initiative will help the creator achieve their personal, professional, and artistic goals.


<h1=”font-size: 150%>



2019-20 Season Announced


The Louisville Orchestra is proud to announce the 2019-2020 Season, the sixth under the galvanizing leadership of Music Director Teddy Abrams. The season concerts will feature innovative local and world premieres, collaboration with a renowned Gospel choir, a number of guest appearances by emerging stars in the orchestra world, and the culmination of a moving and powerful exhibit of violins rescued from the Holocaust. Reconnecting the orchestra with its remarkable past while reestablishing it as the cornerstone of today’s vibrant Louisville music scene, Abrams’s “tireless advocacy and community outreach” is, Listen magazine notes, “putting the history-rich Louisville Orchestra – and classical music – back on the map.” As Time magazine says simply: “A genre-defying orchestra in Louisville? Believe it. The locals do.

Abrams will lead the LO in an opening weekend of concerts welcoming popular violinist ANNE AKIKO MEYERS  (Sep 27/28). Both musicians, together with Teddy Abrams were named to the “19 FOR 19: ARTISTS TO WATCH” list by New York Classical Radio WQXR.  Exploring the power of gospel music and the dynamic creativity of contemporary pop music in the “Fifth Annual Festival of American Music” (Feb 22 & March 13-14), the LO collaborates with the gospel choir of St. Stephen’s Baptist Church for Duke Ellington’s Three Black Kings. The city-wide exhibition Violins Of Hope culminates in a performance From the Diary of Anne Frank by Michael Tilson Thomas (Oct 25-26). Featuring violins rescued from the Holocaust, Violins Of Hope includes an exhibit, lectures, school programs and other concerts in and around Louisville in fall 2019. In addition to Tilson Thomas, contemporary composers Emmy-Award winner Garth Neustadter, Ljova, Anna Clyne, and Missy Mazzoli will have works performed with Louisville Orchestra premieres throughout the concert season.

The LO performs timeless masterworks of the orchestral repertory including the “New World Symphony” of Antonin Dvorak (Sep 28), La Mer by French composer Claude Debussy (Oct 11/12), Three Black Kings by Duke Ellington (Feb 22), and the monumental Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi (Apr 25). In “Teddy Talks Mahler” (Jan 17-18), Abrams continues his series of illuminating deconstructions of famous works of orchestral music and puts the spotlight on the contrasting messages of despair and ecstasy of the Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler.

Three notable guest conductors step up to the LO podium to make their first appearances locally. Vinay Parameswaran, the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, leads the LO on the journey of Don Quixote by Richard Strauss (Nov 22-23). Roderick Cox, winner of the 2018 Solti Conducting Fellowship (Jan 31/Feb 1), and Rei Hotoda, Music Director of the Fresno Symphony (Apr 1) each bring a strong and individual perspective to their work and will each offer a Louisville premiere and an orchestral masterwork.

Looking ahead to the new season, Music Director Teddy Abrams explains:

                “Each program on the 2019-20 season of the Louisville Orchestra is inspired by a single concept. We have a season-wide mission to combine cutting-edge projects with storytelling that connects with our shared human (and local) experiences. Even the traditional repertoire we’re presenting fits this narrative emphasis, from Dvorak’s 9th Symphony (mysteriously inspired by Mildred Hill, a musicologist from Louisville) to our annual “TeddyTalks,” a sub-textual breakdown of a musical work, in this case, the Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler.
“Our ardent commitment to living composers continues to grow next season with attention to diversity amongst the composers of our contemporary works. Our thematic programs include works based on “Water” with the music of Garth Neustadter and John Luther Adams, “Hope and History” featuring the inspirational “Violins of Hope” in Michael Tilson Thomas’ From the Diary of Anne Frank and “Gospel” featuring our local St. Stephen Choir, which is considered one of the greatest Gospel choirs in the United States.
“Some of our upcoming major projects include season-wide premieres of collaborations with dance, theater, and visual artists. We want the Louisville Orchestra to be a central forum for creativity in programming, which is something our wonderful community values deeply. We owe our audiences unique experiences that represent the best of Louisville’s cultural capabilities, and my hope is that this next season offers programs that inspire and unify the broadest of audiences possible in our town.”


In addition to the Classics Series, the orchestra plays an eight-concert Friday morning Coffee Series with music selected from the Classics Series concerts. Fans of the orchestra’s five-concert Pops Series will be treated to the music of movie blockbusters including Dr. Zhivago, Moon River, and Gone With the Wind in an evening of “Hollywood Hits” (Sep 21). Under the direction of Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, this set of concerts also includes our “Holiday Pops” (Nov 30), a tribute to the great music of Motown in “Dancing In The Streets” (Jan 25), and an evening with piano man Michael Cavanaugh as he plays and sings the songs of Elton John, Paul McCartney, the Eagles and more. The dazzling talents of Arrival from Sweden bring their “Tribute to ABBA” to Louisville for one thrilling night only on March 25, 2020.

The three-concert LO Family Series brings the joy of music to our youngsters with three concerts designed just for the 3- to 12-year-old set. Performances kick-off with a “Superheroes” theme (Oct 5 at the Brown Theatre) with all children invited to dress in costume as their favorite hero. Our annual holiday concert (Nov 30 at the Kentucky Center) is fun for the entire family; and reprising their performance from the 2017-18 season, Squallis Puppeteers join the LO for “Peter & The Wolf” (March 21 at the Brown Theatre) featuring those bigger than life puppets that make this Louisville-based company renowned for their creativity.


Discounted season ticket packages are now available by subscription. Renewing subscribers will be receiving invoices with “same seat” privileges in their mailboxes by the end of next week. Both renewals and new subscribers are welcome to call or order online to secure tickets for this dynamic concert season. Tickets for individual concerts in the 2019-2020 Season will be available on August 1, 2019.

Weekdays 9AM to 5PM
CALL:  502.587.8681  or Walk-in: Louisville Orchestra at 620 W. Main St., downtown Louisville




Teddy Abrams Signs 5-Year Contract

For Immediate Release

Five Year Contract for Music Director Teddy Abrams

Louisville, KY (3.20.2019)… The Louisville Orchestra Board of Directors, together with CEO, Robert Massey, are pleased to announce an unprecedented 5-year contract to extend the term of Teddy Abrams as Music Director. This extension from the usual 3-year contract renewal shows the organization’s confidence in the artistic direction and creative vision of the young conductor.

“We’re thrilled to make this extraordinary commitment to engaging Teddy until the 2024-2025 Season. His vision for the renaissance of the arts for our orchestra and our community is unique in the world,“ says John P. Malloy, President of the LO Board of Directors.

Abrams was named Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra in 2014, the youngest conductor ever named to that position with a major orchestra. He’s become a popular figure throughout Louisville while developing a national reputation for innovation and community building.

Since stepping onto the Louisville Orchestra podium, Abrams has built an impressive list of accomplishments including the release of “All In,” the LO’s first album in nearly 30 years, which reached #1 on the Classical Billboard chart. He has re-invigorated the orchestra’s historic leadership in commissioning new works and presenting world premieres. His own award-winning compositions have brought a diverse new audience to the Louisville Orchestra including The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, Unified Field, Kentucky Royal Fanfare (which was performed for Charles, Prince of Wales) and others. One of his first priorities was establishing a new concert series that took the orchestra into Louisville neighborhoods for performances in the Music Without Borders Series to expand the orchestra’s community impact. He also launched a 2-concert “Festival of American Music,” a musical challenge to audiences to expand the definition of concert music through an exploration of the American influences on the music of all genres.

Artistic collaboration has become a focus for Abrams’s work. Several of his most notable collaborators have been indie-rocker Jim James, Grammy-Award winning fiddler Michael Cleveland, folk singer-songwriter Will “Bonnie Prince Billy” Oldham, choreographers Adam Hoagland and Andrea Schermoly, filmmakers Dennis Scholl and Owsley Brown III, and many more. Abrams’s efforts to bring the Louisville arts community into collaborative projects have resulted in exceptional performances featuring individuals and local organizations including Louisville Ballet, University of Louisville musicians from the choral and jazz programs, artists from the Kentucky College of Art and Design, independent local artists such as rapper Jecorey “1200” Arthur, folk fiddler Scott Moore, folk cellist Ben Sollee, jazz singer Carly Johnson and others.

A passionate advocate for music education and mentoring, Abrams regularly conducts in-school masterclasses at middle and high schools, launched a select program to personally support serious high school students in their music pursuits, revitalized the Louisville Orchestra’s 78-year-old MakingMUSIC program of education concerts for elementary school children, crafted a recycling-creativity project for youngsters to make musical instruments from “trash” known as “Landfill Orchestra,” and is currently working with the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization (dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts) to mentor two talented young conductors.

In addition to his activities as Music Director for the Louisville Orchestra, Abrams is Music Director for the Britt Festival, a summer concert series based in Jacksonville, Oregon. He is in demand as a guest conductor and has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Orchestra, and the orchestras in Houston, Milwaukee, Vancouver, Colorado, Phoenix and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He served as assistant conductor of the Detroit Symphony from 2012 to 2014. From 2008 to 2011, Abrams was the Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, serving under his long-time mentor Michael Tilson Thomas.

An accomplished pianist and clarinetist, Abrams has appeared as soloist in Louisville and across the country. He also collaborates with a wide variety of musicians as keyboardist for both classical, indie-rock and pop concerts. He has held residencies at the La Mortella music festival in Ischia, Italy, and at the American Academy in Berlin. Abrams is a proud alumnus of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a bachelor of music degree, having studied piano with Paul Hersh.  Read his full bio HERE. Find photos of Teddy HERE

FRI 11 MAR at 6PM : KRM Live: Free Concert

Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) presents a free concert on Friday, March 11 at 6PM at Logan Street Market (1001 Logan St., Louisville) that features local Latinx musicians and a guest appearance by Teddy Abrams.

Kentucky musicians create home through artistic expression and exchange. This special event is part of the Louisville Orchestra’s Festival of Latin American Music. Performances from Leiser Tito Quesada, Magda Sanchez, Alberto Abril, Ernesto Ramos, Osmany Chauvin Elias, and more.

Masks are required for all guests.

Live Concerts in a Season of “New Beginnings”

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.




All dates, programs, and artists are subject to change


A magical and rapturous piece, the Concierto de Aranjuez is a rare treat. This program, part of the Festival of Latin American Music, will enchant you with its lyrical ardor.

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

KALENA BOVELL, conductor