Arts and Culture

The program slated for this year’s Festival of American Music is pretty diverse. You have everything from Samuel Barber’s dramatic “Overture to The School for Scandal” to Herbie Hancock’s jazzy “Cantaloupe Island.”

Louisville Orchestra music director Teddy Abrams says he kind of felt like a chef putting together this program. He wanted a menu that was diverse enough for all audiences, but still had a sense of cohesion.

“And that’s kind of what we have in this case,” Abrams says. “This Festival of American Music program — this is our final set of concerts of the season, and I wanted to be kind of a summation of all this work we’ve been doing in the contemporary genre with living composers, with artists of different backgrounds. And I want it to be kind of a cross-section of what you find in America right now.”

As part of the Festival, Abrams will also present a portion of “The Greatest: Muhammad Ali,” a piece inspired by the boxing legend’s life.

Abrams says it was initially going to be a shorter work (an orchestral snapshot, in a way, inspired by Aaron Copland’s 1942 “Lincoln Portrait”), until he saw the collective response to Ali’s death last summer.

“This needed to be something bigger,” he says. “I didn’t realize how much bigger though because instead of writing the 12-minute piece, I kind of buried myself (in my work) and emerged in December with a 75-minute opera type thing.”

“The Greatest: Muhammad Ali” will feature soprano Susan Narucki and local rapper Jecorey Arthur (1200).

The Festival of American Music II will take place Saturday, April 29 at 8 p.m. More information and a full program is available here.

Ashlie Stevens is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.