Next season represents the Louisville Orchestra’s fifth under the galvanizing leadership of Teddy Abrams, “the young music director [who] understands better than most how music makes a city” (The Guardian). Their characteristically creative 2018-19 lineup combines world premieres of new commissions, a heartfelt tribute to a 20th-century master, innovative approaches to the classics, guest appearances by world-class conductors and soloists, and imaginative interdisciplinary collaborations with local arts institutions. 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” are, Listen magazine notes, “putting the history-rich Louisville Orchestra – and classical music – back on the map.” The Los Angeles Times advises: “Watch this guy; he’s going places.” As Time magazine puts it: “A genre-defying orchestra in Louisville? Believe it. The locals do.”
In their opening-night concert, the Music Director and orchestra honor a giant of American culture, celebrating Leonard Bernstein at 100 (Sep 29). Following in his hero’s footsteps, Abrams is also a prolific American composer-conductor, and his is one of two new commissions whose world premieres are highlights of the orchestra’s Fourth Annual Festival of American Music (Feb 23 & March 9). The festival also features the Louisville Ballet, while a collaboration with the Kentucky Center of Art and Design enriches the orchestra’s wide-ranging exploration of “Art + Music” (Jan 26). In “Teddy Talks Brahms,” the Music Director and orchestra offer an illuminating deconstruction of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony (April 27), and two more timeless European classics – Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers and Mozart’s Requiem – are the vehicles for their ambitious choral extravaganza (Oct 27). Finally, it is with a masterwork of the late-Romantic literature – Mahler’s “Tragic” Sixth Symphony – that they draw the season to an emotional close (May 11). Three guest-conducting engagements complete the Classics Series lineup, including the return to Louisville of one of Abrams’s mentors, the legendary Leonard Slatkin (Jan 12).
Looking ahead to next season, the young Music Director explains: “The 2018-19 season builds on our mission to create uniquely curated and adventurous programs for our audiences. We are balancing dramatic new projects with large-scale repertoire presented in creative formats. From a celebration of Leonard Bernstein that includes multiple sets of his music in populist, classical, and religious idioms to a juxtaposition of the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 with the Mozart Requiem, plus an intensive discussion and exploration of Brahms’s Symphony No. 4, we are performing great works of the past in ways that invite audiences to forge deep relationships with the art itself. Our projects include several major initiatives during our annual Festival of American Music: a new staging of Appalachian Spring, a premiere of an immersive musical work that tells the story of America from the Revolution to the present through songs about Kentucky’s most famous product – bourbon! – and a program devoted to jazz and its intersection with the orchestral world. I am also thrilled to welcome my mentor Leonard Slatkin as a guest conductor next season – it is wonderful to bring an icon of American music to an orchestra that has an iconic history of its own. Between our commissions, projects, and experiments with form and format, I am very proud that the Louisville Orchestra continues to reshape and grow the definition of what a 21st-century orchestra can be.”