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.”