Director Owsley Brown III will accept a Gramaphone Award for best classical music film for “Music Makes a City,” a documentary about the Louisville Orchestra, at a ceremony in London today. Brown will accept the award on behalf of the Louisville-based production team, which includes co-director Jerome Hiler and producer Robin Burke.
“Music Makes a City” documents the Louisville Orchestra’s rise in 1948 from a struggling semi-professional ensemble to a full professional orchestra with an internationally-renowned new work commissioning program.
The commissioning program reached new heights in 1953 when the Rockefeller Foundation funded weekly new compositions for three years. The orchestra’s commissioning project created hundreds of new classical works by internationally-known composers, performed weekly and recorded in Louisville, launching the orchestra into international renown.
The visionaries in this story are Robert Whitney, who came to conduct the orchestra in the wake of the 1937 flood, and then-mayor Charles Farnsley, who believed a robust arts community is a vital part of a strong city. The film employs archival footage and recordings and features interviews with classical music experts and composers.
“Music Makes a City” illustrates how novel ideas can help revive a struggling arts organization. The orchestra’s 75th anniversary season opened this month after a year-long hiatus due to a prolonged labor dispute.
The Gramaphone awards are judged by Gramaphone magazine critics and other classical music industry leaders, including musicians and arts administrators. “Music Makes a City” was released in 2010.